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Agile Retrospectives - an overview and reference

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  1. 1. Retrospectives V1.2 Jim Brisson Jim.brisson@agilecoaching.org
  2. 2. Adaptive Teams • Self organizing, self disciplined • The secret sauce of Agile • Adaptive teams are not born • They are built and nurtured
  3. 3. Safety learning pyramid Results! Adaptive Behavior Learning Safety Respect and Trust
  4. 4. Safety Check Exercise Level Description Comment 4 Secure Everything is discussable without filtering 3 Safe Almost everything is discussable without filtering 2 Neutral Some things are discussable without filtering, some are not 1 Dangerous Many of my best ideas are not discussable 0 Treacherous Most of my best ideas are not discussable Face to Face? – Use anonymous paper ballot Remote – Use anonymous polling software (e.g. Lync, polleverywhere.com, or google “online polling tool”)
  5. 5. ESVP Exercise Description Comment Explorers You’re eager to discover new ideas and insights. You want to learn everything you can about the iteration/release/project Shoppers You will look over all the available information, and will be happy to go home with one useful new idea. Vacationers You aren’t interested in the work of the retrospective, but are happy to be away from the daily grind. Prisoners You feel that they’ve been forced to attend and would rather be doing something else.
  6. 6. Count votes – show histogram Level Description Number of People 4 Secure XXXXX XXXXX (10) 3 Safe X (1) 2 Neutral XXXX (4) 1 Dangerous XXXX (4) 0 Treacherous (0)
  7. 7. What to do with results • High safety – team feels safe, so proceed with other activities assuming everyone will talk about anything • Medium safety – some folks are not willing to talk about all topics. Facilitator and team should look for more anonymous ways to elicit input and look for ways to accommodate others. • Low safety – do not proceed with retrospective activities, instead focus on improving safety
  8. 8. How to improve safety Build safety guidelines for meetings 1. Break into groups of 3 to discuss and create guidelines 2. Give groups a few tests to ponder • Someone starts blaming someone else • Someone tells an inappropriate joke • Someone dominates the meeting • Someone talks too much • Someone talks too little 1. Ask for insights – “Put yourself in the shoes of someone not feeling safe. What could be the causes?” – post its on a board 2. Group the causes (analyze) 3. Ask for ideas on how to make safe, given the causes on the board – post its 4. Read suggestions and guide a conversation on them 5. Run the safety check again Or
  9. 9. Exercise • Vote on the safety(left) and ESVP for this education Description Comment Explorers You’re eager to discover new ideas and insights. You want to learn everything you can about the iteration/release/project Shoppers You will look over all the available information, and will be happy to go home with one useful new idea. Vacationers You aren’t interested in the work of the retrospective, but are happy to be away from the daily grind. Prisoners You feel that they’ve been forced to attend and would rather be doing something else. Level Description Comment 4 Secure Everything is discussable without filtering 3 Safe Almost everything is discussable without filtering 2 Neutral Some things are discussable without filtering, some are not 1 Dangerous Many of my best ideas are not discussable 0 Treacherous Most of my best ideas are not discussable
  10. 10. Retrospective Agenda • Set the stage, establish safety • Gather Data • Generate insights • Consolidate and prioritize ideas • Decide what to do • Record actions for tracking • Appreciations • Close
  11. 11. Gather Data • Record a shared set of data • Consider Objective and subjective data • Understand facts vs opinions • The retrospective focus guides what data is relevant for the retrospective
  12. 12. Generate insights • Move beyond habitual thinking • Observe patterns • Understand root causes and influences • Develop a shared awareness • Observe / understand systemic effects
  13. 13. Consolidate and prioritize ideas Decide what to do • Focus on what the team can accomplish • Determine one or two actions or experiments • Don’t necessarily focus on what is ‘most important
  14. 14. Appreciations “A simple thank you can make a difference; appreciation builds good will, and reminds people that they are valued as human beings, not just as CPUs (Code Producing Units) or FTEs (Full Time Equivalents).” -- Esther Derby
  15. 15. Close • Recap agreed-upon actions, actors (if needed), and follow up • Identify ways to improve the next retrospective (retrospect the retrospective)
  16. 16. Ineffective to start in the middle • “What are we doing well?” • Asks for insights, in the absence of shared data • “What should we do differently?” • Asks for conclusions in the absence of shared data or analysis
  17. 17. Retrospectives should be unique • Choose a focus that represents what’s going on for the team • Identify data that will help the team sort through things • Select activities that will enable all members of the team to participate, think, learn, and decide together • Learn from mistakes – regroup and forge ahead • Don’t get in a rut – switch things up • Provide sufficient time to think and innovate
  18. 18. Retrospectives Less About More About Yesterday Tomorrow Airing Everything Top Insights Talk Action Feeling Good Following Through
  19. 19. As teams are examining their practices, ask questions that help surface and test assumptions • What would need to be true for XXX practice to work? • XXX practice makes sense when __________. • XXXX will work perfectly when ___________. • XXX will work well enough when __________. • XXX will be harmful when __________. • What do we know to be true? How do we know that? • What have we assumed to be true? Can we confirm that? • Why do we believe that? • If an outsider watched, what would he say our values are? • What is the gap? How can we make the gap smaller? • How could we make things worse?
  20. 20. Retrospectives Gather Data Analyze Gather Data And Analyze Decide Close KickoffRun SafetyCheck Fix Safety Appreciations Sailboat/ Race Car/ Balloon Sprint Mural Big Hitter Apples to Apples Radar Mood Graph Timeline Satisfaction Histogram Story of a Story CAPT Planned vs Success Interview Catapult Facebook Posts Starfish/ KALM/ DAKI/ 4Ls/ FLAP PMI Open the Box Learning Matrix Patterns/ Shifts Five Whys Rocket/ Triple Nickel Brainstorming Fishbowl Feasible vs Useful Mind Map Tell and Cluster Hamburger Force Field Analysis Voting PMI Circle of Questions Upside Downside Who What When Grade It Insights and Learning On your way out Futurespectives Path to Nirvana Premortem Abyss Future Facebook Posts
  21. 21. Gather Data Techniques to understand what happened
  22. 22. How to use this presentation • Use this presentation as a reference • Many examples will be offered – too many to remember • For your next retrospective • Find techniques that best match what you want to accomplish • Use different techniques frequently – keep your meetings interesting • Consider Introverts vs Extroverts • Some techniques get everyone talking • Some work with a group
  23. 23. Sample reflection themes - Sailboat • Island is the destination • Rocks are risks • Wind in the sails help us reach our destination • Anchor is holding us back • Add data to the appropriate part of the drawing
  24. 24. Sailboat alternatives • Race Car – engine, parachute, hazards • Hot Air Balloon – hot air, weights, weather
  25. 25. Sprint Mural • Break up into teams of 3 • Using pictures only, describe the last Sprint • Teams walk around interpreting pictures drawn by others • Analysis - Look for patterns in data, actions etc. • Uses visual side of brain • Optional – draw in silence
  26. 26. Big Hitter • Each team member gets two cards • Write their ‘big hitter’ moment on first card (a special moment they were involved in) • On the second, write their name, and toss to center of table. • Each team member takes a name (not their own) from center, and writes on card what they think was their ‘big hitter’ • ‘Team members serially read out their guess - may want to give a prize for getting a match • Proceed to analyze matches (and others as appropriate)
  27. 27. Apples to Apples • Players write about 9 cards • 3 things that went well • 3 things that went badly • 3 things that were different • Pick a judge • Judge will pick a quality card • Players put down best match • Judge picks which he likes • “Winner” is next judge • Overall winner has most cards • Quality Cards 1. Fun 2. On time 3. Meaningful 4. Affordable 5. Integrated 6. Clear 7. Educational 8. Talented 9. Smooth 10. Cool 11. Speedy 12. Collaborative 13. Awesome 14. Trustworthy 15. Creepy 16. Dangerous 17. Frustrating 18. Nasty
  28. 28. Actions Centered • Appreciations – What you liked in the last sprint • Puzzles – wonderings, things you have no answer to • Risks – future pitfalls • Wishes – your ideal project/sprint
  29. 29. Radar • Intro – “We agreed on these [whatever] as important to our work. Let’s assess how well we’re doing – center means not at all, and end means maximum.” • Team members use sticky dots or markers to indicate their rating. • Lead discussion on high/low. Where is it appropriate to be high/low? • Generate actions – save the chart and run exercise later, comparing charts • Variations – agile practices, responsibilities, team values, working agreements, technical areas
  30. 30. Timeline • “We’ll fill in a timeline to create a fuller picture of this iteration” • Divide into groups – keep together people that worked closely • Write down memorable, personally meaningful or significant events … one per sticky .... Stickies can be color coded, or use colored dots. • Post on timeline when near finished … about 10 minutes. • Invite the team to read all the input • Analyze the timeline
  31. 31. Timeline coloring variations • Feelings – blue=sad,mad,glad; red=challenged,stalled; green=satisified, successful, energetic; yellow=cautious, confused; purple=fun, surprise, humor; salmon=fatigued, stressed • Events – Yellow=technical, Pink=people/team, Green=organization • Functions – Blue=developers, Pink=Customers, Green=QA, • Themes – Yellow=Team Communication, Blue=Equipment usage, Pink=customer relationship, Green=Engineering practices
  32. 32. Mood graph (aka Peaks & Valleys) • Draw Happy/sad timeline for Sprint • Add events to timeline as mood reminders • Discuss happy, and sad times, collecting data
  33. 33. Satisfaction histogram • Can be done with one or two criteria • E.g. might be interesting to compare satisfaction with the process (or a specific process), vs satisfaction with the product. • List criteria on flip chart – gather anonymous votes – show histogram How satisfied are we? Teamwork • 5 = We’re the best team on the planet – we work great together • 4 = Glad I’m on this team, and satisfied with how we work together • 3 = Fairly satisfied. We work well together most of the time • 2 = I have some moments of satisfaction, but not enough • 1 = I’m unhappy and dissatisfied with our level of teamwork
  34. 34. Story of a Story • Select a User Story – write it on top left of board • Write the major events on its execution path (from inception to completion) • Write the good things to repeat, bad things to avoid/be cautious about, or things to consider changing
  35. 35. CAPT • Vertical axis – Confident vs Apprehensive • Horizontal axis – Tech (tools and technology) vs People (people and interactions) • Over the last iteration, what made you apprehensive, confident …
  36. 36. Planned vs Success • Can scale – e.g. the bigger the success, the higher the note
  37. 37. Interview • Team members interview other team members • Pair up members – hand out questions prepared in advance – questioner takes notes – listening for stories/quotes • The interviewer should not interrupt – this is not a conversation • Switch roles • Identify themes when done
  38. 38. Locate Strengths Interview sample • Tell me about what attracted you to this company • In every release/iteration, there are high points where everything just clicks. Tell me a story about a high point. What were the circumstances? Who else contributed? • If you had three wishes to make our next iteration/release better, what would they be? • A great activity when a team feels beat down.
  39. 39. Catapult • Catapult is organization and processes • Team is in the air, thrown by catapult • Mountain represents obstacles • Nirvana is on other side of mountain • Collect thoughts on catapult, mountain, nirvana and team as relates to past iteration • Start retro by showing • http://www.wimp.com/catapultjump/ • http://www.caroli.org/human-catapult/
  40. 40. Facebook Posts • Assume everyone on the team will be posting on Facebook. Looking back at the iteration timeline, write facebook posts. Each post should have short text and a date.
  41. 41. Exercise • Sailboat on education
  42. 42. Analyze/Gather Insights Techniques to analyze what happened, and derive insights and actions
  43. 43. Starfish • Keep Doing– something that has value and we do well • Less of – something we’re doing, it has some value, but we can reduce a bit • More of– something we’re doing that will bring more value if we do more • Stop Doing – Something not bringing value, or worse, is getting in the way • Start Doing – a new idea or something you’ve seen work before that we should try
  44. 44. Starfish Variations • KALM - Keep, Add, More, Less • DAKI – Drop, Add, Keep, Improve • 4L’s =- Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed for • FLAP – Future Considerations, Lessons Learned, Accomplishments, Problem Areas
  45. 45. PMI • Plus, Minus, Interesting
  46. 46. Open the Box • Read the following quote – ‘The world as we have created it, is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein • Draw box on whiteboard – “Inside this box are all the activities performed by our team. Please open the box …” • What should be removed from the box? Added to the box? Recycled in the box?
  47. 47. Learning Matrix • Like, dislike, new ideas/things to try, acknowledgements/appre ciations
  48. 48. Patterns/Shifts • Look for Patterns - Group similar ideas • For Timelines, look at when shifts happened • Questions about observed patterns: • Is this surprising? • How can we address this issue? • What is missing? • What other topics should we examine further?
  49. 49. Five Whys • Use to get to the root cause of a problem • Correcting symptoms is a waste of resources • Identify root cause to get rid of problems permanently • Find the right person to answer questions • Don’t rely only on 5 whys for critical problems • We didn’t make the schedule Why? • The machine stopped Why? • The fuse blew Why? • The bearing hadn’t been lubricated Why? • We didn’t know it needed grease Why? • We have no preventive maintenance program
  50. 50. Rocket/Triple Nickel • Team members each write down one thing to start/stop doing with: • Explanation • Value statement • Put cards face down, shuffle, deal • Next person elaborates on explanation & value, adds actions to the back • Lather rinse repeat with short time boxes • “Triple nickel” is very similar – rotate cards 3 times for 5 minutes
  51. 51. Brainstorm solutions • Don’t hold back • Facilitator writes everything down – no editing, no filtering – record everything • Method 1 – vocal • Method 2 – round robin – go around circle • Method 3 – silently write down for 5 minutes, then use method 1 or 2 • Come up with 4 to 8 filters • Cross off ideas that don’t pass filters
  52. 52. Fishbowl • With larger group, have 5 chairs in middle • Four are occupied and discuss topics arising from gathered data, while others observe • If observer wants to contribute, she sits in the 5th chair, and whomever is speaking least leaves the fishbowl. • Select a topic to start with. • The topics can be time-boxed.
  53. 53. Feasible vs Useful Solutions • Draw feasible vs useful graph. • Ask for ideas/actions on sticky notes • Ask they be positioned initially on graph • Discuss proper positioning. • By end of discussion, it should be obvious which ideas are useful and feasible.
  54. 54. Just in time Retrospectives - JIT • Retrospect in standup/ backlog grooming …. • Address issues as they arise • Why are we having a process problem? • Why is the story moving so slowly? • How do we get better cooperation from that other team? • Create process change(s), retrospective action(s) • Remember that you still need to hold periodic Retrospectives to discuss broader issues that may not arise in standup, backlog grooming …
  55. 55. Exercise • Triple nickel on previous data
  56. 56. Gather and Analyze Gather data and analyze
  57. 57. Mindmap Brainstorm grouping ideas as they are collected
  58. 58. Tell and cluster • After writing data on stickies – have each describe their items and ask that they cluster with other items as they see it. • After each is read – ask if others have anything similar – if so, ask they read them and place them in that affinity group.
  59. 59. Hamburger • Hamburger = issues (hunger), solutions (food), Context (Spices) • Split into 2-4 teams • Gather data – 10-20 mins – team with most issues gets 10 points, 2nd -5 points … • Look for patterns - Rate issues 0 – 4 • Generate solutions 10-20 minutes – each solution gets 1 point • Rate solutions 0-4 based on applicability (practical, appropriate solutions rank higher) • Derive tasks for highest ranked solutions • Close – 5 minutes – agree on solutions and tasks
  60. 60. Appreciations
  61. 61. Chocolates • Buy a box of chocloates • Facilitator to a team member: “ I would like to give a chocolate to Paul to thank him for helping me with … • Give the box to Paul and ask him to repeat the gesture.
  62. 62. Decisions Techniques to decide between alternatives
  63. 63. Force field analysis • Drivers vs restrainers • Break into small groups to identify driving factors • Collect factors on chart (skip duplicates – reword if helps) • Break into groups and repeat for restraining factors • Discuss factors, drawing extra lines to indicate relative strengths • Ask how to increase strength of Drivers and mitigate Restrainers
  64. 64. Decision making • PMI – Pluses, minuses, interesting • Plot competing solutions • Circle of questions • Vote with dots
  65. 65. Voting • Sticky Dots – give 5, or 3 – allow voting more than once for a given item. • Plus/minus – give 3 + and 3 - votes – or use colored sticky dots
  66. 66. Upside Downside • Split into two even sized groups • One group – make the case for • Why the option in front of them is the worst thing possible OR • Why the situation they are in will be the death of the team OR • Why this solution is the Best solution to the problem • Other group – make the case for • Why the option is the best thing possible OR • Why the situation will be the making of the team OR • Why another specific solution is the best solution to the problem • After 10 minutes prep, have a debate, capture main points, then discuss resolution as one team • Optional – after debate, switch sides and debate again – they now have to defeat their own points • Optional – allocate a neutral observer role to one or two people
  67. 67. Resolution • SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely • Develop tasks for realization of resolution • Size and insert tasks into sprint • Decide on how solution will be evaluated • How will we know the solution was successful
  68. 68. Who-What-When Steps to Action • Table with columns for Who What When • Participants write down steps they’d be willing to commit to/comply with. • Put Post-Its in the What column • Agree to name for Who and time for When it will be done
  69. 69. PMI • Consider plus, minus, interesting • Helps to decide between alternatives
  70. 70. Remote Retrospectives
  71. 71. No one is saying anything
  72. 72. Multiple Facilitators • May want a facilitator in each location (can work for several groups) • Can read body language • Encourage participation • Coordinate responses • Run as one group – facilitators work to ensure everyone is involved • Run as two or more groups by location. • Discuss problems and solutions within group • Unite to discuss/vote on which solutions to implement
  73. 73. Techniques • Use techniques that implicitly involve everyone • Question Circle – works just using conference call • Triple nickel – using emails, google docs, or sticky tools • Or use Fishbowl/Interview with sub group you think will participate • Let the others watch, and step in when they have ideas
  74. 74. Polling • Use Online Polling Tools to get responses from everyone • Can be anonymous, but show count of responses • Helpful for voting
  75. 75. Polling • Helpful for anonymous feedback with bar chart • Safety checks • Histograms on one or more dimensions
  76. 76. After several successful retrospectives • Use any of the other techniques • Perhaps Combine visuals with online sticky tools • Continue to mix up techniques to keep it interesting
  77. 77. Linoit Advantages Disadvantages Free Pictures cannot be enlarged Colored stickies Cannot manage the order of stickies that overlay one another – apparently last touched is on top Tool bar No anonymous additions Easy to use Calendar – ToDo function eMail – reminders, additions, notifications Shows who added what
  78. 78. Padlet (WallWisher) Advantages Disadvantages Free No colored stickies Pictures can be enlarged No menu Easy to use – double click to add sticky Anonymous additions First sticky stays on the bottom – good when doing picture based retrospectives
  79. 79. Summary – Remote Retrospectives tools • Try adding facilitator for each remote location • For first few remote retros, use techniques that require participation • Use Sticky boards • Linoit and Padlet are both easy to use • You might use Padlet to base the retrospective on a picture • And use Linoit when colored stickies can help • Polling tools can gather and chart opinions • Remote retrospectives are more difficult but can work well
  80. 80. Retrospective Actions
  81. 81. Retrospective Action Format • Include ‘why’ in action – • We will xxxx, so that we can xxxx • Some validation (acceptance criteria) • Example • We will write dependencies in story description, so that we can check that dependencies are done before we start work on that story • Valid if prevents starting stories too early
  82. 82. Tracking • Kanban board for tracking • Information radiator – physical in team area • Review frequently – e.g. at standup • Always review at beginning of retrospective • WIPs – limit to 3-5 actions at once • WIP limit probably not necessary Backlog Trying Valid Doing Done
  83. 83. Longer term tracking • Helpful to put all actions into a table shared on wiki/sharepoint. • Can show new folks how we work, with some idea of why • Shows your speed of change – may want to retrospect on your speed of change
  84. 84. Close How to close retrospective
  85. 85. Grade it • Draw Vertical arrow • Add grades – e.g. 0 to 4 • Ask participants to place a post it on the arrow – with comments explaining the score Variations 1. Line depicts ROI – Lost to high, Comments reflect the ROI value 2. Line depicts xxx
  86. 86. Insights and learning • Draw vertical for Learning + and – • Draw horizontal line for Insights, + and – • Ask participants for feedback on the session – posting their notes in the appropriate position on the chart
  87. 87. On your way out • Collect feedback on the session on the way out. • Participants record score/comments on cards • Participants fold the card and put in hat/box at the end of the meeting
  88. 88. Dell - Internal Use - Confidential Introspectives
  89. 89. Introspectives • Consider yourself only • E.g. what are you doing well, where do you need/want to improve • Team can still brainstorm how to improve, or how to extend good behavior.
  90. 90. Dell - Internal Use - Confidential Futurespectives
  91. 91. Path to Nirvana Define Nirvana • Write Nirvana on the top right of board • Break into small groups – write one sentence describing nirvana • Each subgroup presents its sentence to whole group • Whole group derives one common sentence Path to Nirvana • Draw timeline to Nirvana • Participants write steps on the path to Nirvana • Discuss to derive action items
  92. 92. Premortem • What could go wrong? How might this all end in disaster? • Individually participants can write down risks and concerns on stickies • Add to board, then Analyze/group • Ask participants to individually write notes addressing risks and concerns – use different color stickies • Have participants place on board – discuss as group and derive action plan
  93. 93. Abyss • Looking back – Engine – What pushed us forward? • Looking back – Parachute – What slowed us down? • Looking ahead – Abyss – What dangers are ahead? • Looking ahead – Bridge – What can we build to overcome the dangers?
  94. 94. Future Facebook Posts • Assume everyone on the team will be posting on Facebook, imagine you’ve traveled in time and are looking back at the iteration timeline • Have team write future facebook posts. Should have a short text and a date on the future.
  95. 95. Why do Retrospective An exercise to understand the importance of retrospecting
  96. 96. 52 card pickup – on value of retrospecting • 20-25 minute exercise • Teams of 3 – will drop shuffled deck on floor, then pickup and sort on table according to rules from facilitator (e.g. stacks by face value vs stacks by suit in numerical order…) • First iteration – 2 minutes – no planning, no reflection • 2nd iteration on – one member of team goes to front of room with facilitator, reads situational card (see next page), and returns to deck. Team member complies with card for next iteration. • 5 iterations – reflect after each • Learning – discuss value of reflecting/improving. Discuss dealing with problems during iterations.
  97. 97. 52 pickup situational cards • Pick up a card or two, hold for a while, then put down • Just stand and smile, doing nothing • Whistle or hum while sorting cards randomly, making frequent mistakes • Keep dropping cards • Take your time and tell stories about what you did yesterday • Act confused and keep asking “what’s the plan?” • Go to the restroom halfway thru • Act confused and keep saying “I don’t think we’re doing this right” • As soon as the iteration starts, just walk away