Retrospective Surgery

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A retrospective about retrospectives!

The intention is to find out the biggest problems teams face and come up with “cures” for them. However it also looks at symptoms of good retrospectives and spends some time sharing tools and techniques that can be applied to add some zing and stop them becoming tired and repetitive.

Exercise 1: Ailments and Cures

Organise people into teams of 4-6, preferably not with people they usually work with.

Give each team a stack of red post it notes or index cards and ask them to write down any problems they are having with their retrospectives, one per card. Ask people to call out their ailment to their team as they're writing it down.

After a chosen period of time (or when everyone has run out of problems) ask the team to de-duplicate and choose their top x ailments. They are allowed to create new ailments during this time (x determined by how much time you have).

Ask the teams to pass on their chosen ailments to another team and hand each team a stack of green post it notes. Teams then go through the ailments and discuss 'cures' as group. Each cure is written on a separate post it and stuck to the ailment. They can have as many cures for each ailment as they like. Collect the output and de-duplicate whilst the participants get on with another exercise. Stick the output up on a flip chart or on the wall

Exercise 2: Symptoms of good retrospectives

Ask the groups to discuss the symptoms of a good retrospective. What we're looking for here is not answers like "more effective teams", but tell-tale signs within the retrospective that it is functioning well. Examples may be things such as "everyone contributing", "people talking in turn rather than over each other", "a positive vibe" and so on.

Get the group to record their symptoms on index cards or post-it notes.

After a pre-appointed period collect all the symptoms and de-duplicate whilst the teams get on with the next exercise. Stick the output up on a flip chart or on the wall.

Exercise 3: Tools, Tips & Tricks

Lastly, everyone shares techniques they've used effectively in previous retrospectives. This can range from full retrospective plans, small exercises, tips and tricks.

Ask groups to record their output on separate cards providing details to any resources available on the cards. Stick the output up on a flip chart or on the wall.

Take 5 minutes at the end to go through all the output, reading it to the participants and give them some time to inspect the output as well. After the session ensure you record all the output and make it available to the participants.

Finally, add the output the the Agile Retrospective Resource Wiki (if it is not already here)

Source:

Rob Bowley

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