Thursday, 17 September 2015

Super quick themed retrospectives

At the beginning of my current role, I decided (possibly foolishly) that I would not repeat a retro with the same team. The goal was to create a new retro for each team, every time.

Some, I have lavished time on but when you need to pull one together in double quick time, I took the advice of Helen Meek who is the master of the themed retro.

The theme is usually a movie but musicals, sports, bands or TV shows are equally applicable. You can get creative with this and I think pretty much anything goes.

We all want to get actions from our teams so we pose questions about the sprint to help them look back and find those improvements e.g.

  • What problems did we encounter?
  • What's going to hit us next?
  • What went well / not so well?
  • What went according to plan?
  • What caught us by surprise?

etc etc

Using the theme, we can cunningly wrap the same questions up to keep the whole thing interesting and unique.

Here is an example:

Happy, Mad, Sad is sooo 1990s! Replace Happy with Joy, Mad with Anger and add Disgust and Fear and you have the main characters from Inside Out:

What made us happy?
What did we find unpleasant?
What made us sad?
What should we be scared of?
What made us loose our temper?
Quick and easy. Also works with kids up to 8 years old :)

With a bit of imagination you can pick 3-5 scenes from any film and come up with some questions to get your team thinking here are some examples from "The Internship" (which was an unpopular choice solely due to it's Rotten Tomatoes score, geeks eh?):

How did we help each other out?
What did we get wrong?
What can we celebrate about this sprint?
Since these are quick, you can tailor them to the teams current situation. When a few people left one team, I quickly added a '"How are we going to stay together?" question in a matter of minutes.

Google is an obvious place to have a look for scenes from films or you could have a look at to get those ideas going. Here's one that Dan Rushton sent me, which made me chuckle:

Did we see anything shocking?
Still stuck for ideas? Get the team to suggest a movie or something they are interested in. So when I heard one of my teams discussing the Great British Bake Off...

What was our showstopper?
What was the technical challenge?
Which of our creations would have turned Mary's stomach?
What did not go according to plan?
Maybe it could be a new film they are all talking about? Maybe a Xbox/PS4 game? A season finale, perhaps? The format is simple and flexible and I enjoy them as fillers between more focused and structured retro's when there is something I want to "deep dive" into.

Be warned. Some people don't get metaphors. There is no helping these people, believe me I have tried :(

For a masterclass, be sure to visit the many blogs of Miss Meek, enjoy!

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