junio 29, 2016

The "Groundhog day" retrospective

Some months ago I was feeling bored and tired of facilitating retrospectives. I have facilitated several hundreds of retrospectives, and sometimes you start again with a new team,  you repeat a lot of techniques and for sure continuously became a better facilitator (if deliberate practice, and feedback). Of course that every team is different, and the great part is the outcome, to feel their change. But at some point I was bored.

So now I tend to mix classical exercises with more tuned approaches to create new things for the teams. Please, give me your opinion about this: the groundhog day retrospective:

- First, you can do a classical check-in. For this first time I did Appreciation round, and review previous actions.
- Then, you draw a timeline for the past sprint. i asked the team to identify (with color codes) three things: 
 1) problems identified during the sprint
 2) improvements that they thought should have done
 3) Facts, things that happened, observations.

 When they finished the identification, I made the following statement: “Remember the film "Groundhog day"? So now, suppose we come back next day for the sprint planning, and suddenly, we discover we are in the same sprint. People live in the same day of the previous planning. We remember everything, but nothing is done. And the same thing will happen again. We have the same stories in the top of the backlog, and we are back in the same sprint planning than two weeks (length of the sprint) before. Look the sprint again, with new eyes, but with the same work to do”

 And now you ask three questions, and after each you repeat the statement.
 1) Individually, write ONE postit looking at the problems on the timeline. If you could solve one of these problems, now that you know it´s going to happen, what would you have done to solve it during the sprint?
 (let them work and put the ideas on the wall, and repeat the statement again, adding that the same sprint is back again! :)
 2) Individually, write ONE postit looking at the improvements on the timeline. If you could do one action to improve the sprint, what would you have done to improve the sprint?
 (let them work and put the ideas on the wall, and repeat the statement again, adding that the same sprint is back again! :)
 3) Individually, write ONE posit looking at the observations, evaluating their impact, What would you change on the team behaviour, on the team reactions to those things to perform better during the sprint?
 (great! finally we achieved an incredible sprint, we can move to the next one!)



 Take a look at the wall, let them search for patterns and groups. What´s there?

 Decide actions, observe if there is need for dot voting to prioritise, or some informal agreement emerge.

 And close the retrospective, get some feedback, and make sure that every action has a responsible.

Notes: (I only have used this retro once)
- I found that those questions and the power to change the past generated a good analysis and powerful debates.
- If the team is young, you probably have to explain the film first. Seriously. :D
- I think that if you use it for releases, longer times than iterations, probably the divergence will be too high. But, tell me if you try it, please!


Comments are welcome! 

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