Sunday, 14 December 2014

Review the Future Retrospective

I was co-facilitating a client workshop recently, and I wanted to include an agile retrospective activity. It was my first introduction to the team and they were using a waterfall development methodology, so I didn't want to go too zany. However I wanted to know how they thought they could improve and, as a facilitator, I find the constant 'post-it notes then sharing' retrospective format to be quite boring to deliver.

I looked through Retr-O-Mat for inspiration and decided that the Remember the Future idea would form the basis of my activity:

Source: Retr-O-Mat

I liked that the premise of this idea put the team in a forward thinking mindset. However it wasn't quite the style I was after so, for the workshop, I chose to adapt the exercise in several ways. 

To get the team talking to one another so that I could observe their dynamics, I wanted to create a more interactive collection activity rather than an individual one.  I asked the team to break into groups of three people rather than working by themselves.

As the team weren't using iterations I changed the language to "Imagine your next release is the best ever!". To shift the focus from looking inwards, imagining only the team perspective, to looking outwards, imagining the reaction of others in the organisation, I asked each group to think about the reactions to their amazing release from their managers, business owners, end users and the team themselves.

Instead of capturing jotting notes or keywords, each group had to capture these reactions in a series of reviews that included a 5-star rating, a comment, and a name, e.g.

★★★★★ "Our key process is now 10 minutes faster! Amazing!" - Bob from Business

Once the reviews were complete, each group presented back to the team. It was interesting to see different themes emerge from each group, including feedback focused on successful delivery of key functional improvements to business people, unusually quick turnaround of tasks that improved flow of work, and simple recognition of the team's achievement.

After the presentations we returned to the activity as it was described in Retr-O-Mat. We asked the team to think about the changes they would have made to their process to receive these reviews. Suggestions for improvement appeared rapidly and, with this shared context, were relatively consistent across all the participants in the workshop.

I found this activity collected the type of information that we were seeking, while also keeping the team engaged and interactive in the workshop itself.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katrina,

    In search of a creative, somewhat loose, not-super-structured format, I recently used "Remember the Future" to facilitate a 1.5 hour retro for our remote distributed team of 8. I appreciated the intent: Create Your Future. It was a nice balance given that some of my teammates like structure and some do not. It was helpful for me because I prefer less structure and am not totally comfortable yet "winging it" round table-style with no format. Discussion, laughs, and "retro the retro" takeaway comments indicated that it worked out well:

    * The format was "different", "refreshing", "fun".
    * We came up with a rewards program idea to celebrate & publicize customer success and say thanks for code base contributions that help multiple customers.
    * "At first I was skeptical of this format, but the benefits became clear after a little while: providing shared context and awareness and re-synchronization on big picture." Note: This developer prefers unstructured retros. He is an expert facilitator & exclusively uses unstructured style retros when it's his turn to lead them.

    Thanks for sharing!