The retrospective is an important tool for agile teams. It is an opportunity for the team to reflect, learn, and improve their process.
But these sessions can get stale. If your team organizes a retrospective session after each iteration (you should!) you may be familiar with this phenomenon.
Each retrospective session can feel the same as the last. You talk about the same recurring problems. The team begins to lose interest in the session and may even suggest to “skip the retro”. “Just this once!”
The problem is not that you have retrospectives too often, or that there is nothing to learn. The problem is that your meetings are boring.
I used http://plans-for-retrospectives.com/ to bring some variety to our retrospectives. One that we particularly enjoyed was the ‘tweet your sprint’ activity.
Activity: “Imagine you were live-tweeting the last sprint, what would you have written? Capture the sprint in 140 characters using @mentions, #hashtags and re-tweets”
Ask your team to write down each tweet on a sheet of paper individually.
After 5 minutes, have everyone share their tweets with the group. Identify common themes and group the tweets. Select the most interesting or popular themes by voting. Limit your selection to match the available time, and discuss them further.
In practice — Why this worked for my team
This activity worked really well for our team.
- The format is not that much different from our regular brainstorm routine. But it was different enough that the team had to re-focus and get out of ‘autopilot retrospective’ mode. We paid attention to each other.
- Funny hashtags produced some laughs. It was good for the mood in the room.
- Some tweets were written in the first person, which was more personal. “I feel frustrated about our slow process #takes4ever” communicates more than a sticky note that says “slow process”.
- While people wrote different things, there was some overlap in the themes that were brought up. We discussed those in depth.
The ‘tweet your sprint’ activity is just an activity to get input from the team.
After this activity we took other steps to take that input to generate insights and create action points.
‘Tweet your sprint’ is just an example of an activity. Try to have different activities once in a while. The point is to have some variety and keep participants paying attention.
Mixing things up will keep the team interested in the retrospective session, and will keep energy during the sessions high. Expressing yourselves in different ways will bring surprising different perspectives.
Go to http://plans-for-retrospectives.com/ to check out ideas for your team.