How we use squad health checks
We quite like the idea of squad health checks, which were made popular by Spotify. We use the health check quarterly with each squad as part of a retrospective. It works something like this:
- Every squad member picks the 2–3 most memorable events from last quarter and puts them on a timeline. This helps to jog everyone’s memory what happened in the last three months and mitigates the bias to overemphasise most recent events.
- We go through the categories one by one
- The facilitator reads out loud what green and red mean for this category
- Everyone picks a rating card by themselves before showing it to avoid priming
- We gather the results on a flipchart
- Outliers explain their opinion
- For each category the team thumb votes if the trend is going up, staying about the same or going down
- We look at the results of the last two health checks to identify bigger trends
- We gather ideas to improve the categories with the worst rating(s)
- We formulate improvement experiments for the top one or two
As an alternative to steps 3–7 I have also done these steps instead to mix it up a bit.
- Fill out a print-out version of the flipchart in pairs (print cards on the back for reference)
- present pair results to rest of the team and fill out flipchart
We visualise the results of the last three health checks across all squads to identify patterns.
The Agile Coaches also use these results for their OKRs. One of our current objectives is to enable teams to become more effective with key results “Have 1 or less downward trends per team in squad health check” and “Improve squad health check by at least 1 rating per team”.