A Better Retrospective

Thomas Christensen
Nov 9, 2015 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post

Inspect and Adapt (or die)

Doing an end-of-project retrospective, is an important part of the Scrum Inspect and Adopt doctrine. Learn from your mistakes or you are doomed to repeat them. So when I was planning the retrospective of an especially difficult project, I decided that something different was called for. Where was so much we could learn.

Same old, same old

The normal — be it company, project or sprint — retrospective at Reload! A/S goes a little something like this:

  1. Positive / Negative / Suggestions
  2. Anybody with something to say, says it and the “driver” writes it in Pos or Neg
  3. Sometimes we find the photo of the whiteboard from the previous session and compare.
  4. When everybody is done, problems will lead to suggestions
  5. Suggestions are sometimes assigned to somebody
  6. Photo is takes of the whiteboard an put in google drive/yammer
  • Sometimes we forget to publish the photo.
  • Focus is on the present, not the past (stuff is forgotten)
  • Not everybody participates. To easy to just sit back and watch.

Go Tasty

The old way is quite embedded in the company culture, and this is pretty much what people think of when they hear the word Retrospective. I really, really wanted to do something more. There was so much to learn from this project.

Moodgraph

Image for post
Image for post
  1. Vertical axis goes from sad
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Circles and Soup

Now with our memories refreshed, I wanted something linking the positive/negative part of the old way, but different. The Circles and Soup game from TastyCupcakes, seemed like just the thing. I also hoped that it could help visualize, that a good part of the things that had gone wrong, in this projects was — to some degree — beyond our control.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

Suggestions

We then picked some of the post-it’s from the inner circle and started attacting them in solution mode. Brainstorming with notes on the whiteboard. If they where directly under our control, we should be able to do better another time. Many of the issues where facets of the same problem and where stacked besides the suggested solutions.

Retrospective^2

When we where done I asked people for their opinion on the retrospective it self, and everybody agreed that the moodgraph had been good at refreshing everybody's memories and that the Circles and Soup game had been a good alternative to the normal positive/negative/suggestions way. Using post-its and getting up to the whiteboard activates and thinking about the added dimensions of team influence forces a bit more reflection.


Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store