For anyone who has been a facilitator of, or participated in, a significant number of retrospectives, eventually patterns tend to emerge. One of the patterns that can surface is where multiple teams might be experiencing similar things that are creating challenges for them, where some of those things might be at least partially beyond their control.
The central construct for this retrospective is that we pose a hypothetical, where we ask each team member to put on their thinking cap and imagine that when they walk out of the retrospective, they have C-Level decision-making authority.
When to Use This Retrospective Technique
A particularly good time to use this retrospective technique is when:
- Action steps from a team’s retrospective which require follow-up at the leadership level are not getting addressed
- There are few if any Continuous Improvement mechanisms in place, such as a Continuous Improvement Board, that can help identify patterns in action steps that surface from multiple teams’ retrospectives
Facilitating the Retrospective
To facilitate this retrospective, set up the conversation something like this:
- Imagine that we get to try an experiment, where each one of us, on a rotating basis, will have the opportunity to act as a C-Level executive for a single day.
- Silently write down the top three things you would want to accomplish during your day as a C-Level executive. Be sure to mention what outcomes you would want to see based on your top three things. In other words, what would be different if those outcomes had been achieved?
- Collect the inputs from the team, and group them by type. Have a conversation about each of the inputs.
- Use a prioritization technique to get a read from the team on which of the inputs they consider to be the most important
- Seek the team’s permission to: 1) Share the outcomes from the conversation with members of the leadership team; or 2) Share the outcomes from the conversation with members of other teams, after they have had a similar conversation.
As alluded to in the final bullet point above, the nature of the potential follow-up steps from this conversation could vary, depending on the level of trust that exists at various levels of the organization, and the extent to which teams feel empowered to express their opinion openly and honestly, not only inside of the team context, but also outside of it.
One of the more powerful potential outcomes from this type of conversation, especially if multiple teams have a conversation similar to this, is that if consistent themes emerge across teams, it could serve as a data point that is more likely to carry weight with members of the leadership team.