I was planning the retrospective for the team and wanted an exercise that had a really positive spin to it. I didn’t find what I was looking for so I put this exercise together. (At least I think I designed it, but I have read a lot during the years and might just as well have stolen something and put my name on it. Who knows? Many of the retrospective formats are just variations of the same thing anyway.)
Instead of just looking for pain points I wanted to see what we do well and find ways to amplify the good things and try spread it to other areas. We had a great meeting and came out with some really good actions that can further improve our team. I hope you can find this useful too.
Purpose of the excercise
To find possibilities for improvement by looking at what we are doing well and find ways to reinforce that. We are also looking to apply the successful patterns in other areas.
Preparations (Set the stage)
Set the stage by asking someone to read the retrospective prime directive and perform an icebreaker exercise. I tend to like to perform some kind of game. Mostly I find inspiration from kids party games and such. Often silly, but it gives good energy to the meeting.
Draw the three categories on the whiteboard.
Hand out post-its and pens to everybody.
Describe the purpose of the exercise and go through step by step how it will be performed.
Find the awesome things around you. (Gather data)
Let the participants individually write down on stickies things that they find awesome. When people have stopped writing tell them that there is three minutes left to push out the last ideas. Let people one by one put up their stickies in the awesome things column and making a brief explanation of each stickie. When done cluster similar items.
Find out what the awesome things have in common (Generate insights)
Brainstorm and try to find the driving forces for making things awesome. What do the awesome things have in common?
Note the inputs in the second column. Nothing is wrong. Have a discussion of the result and filter if needed. Debrief the participants with open questions.
How do we amplify it (Decide what to do)
Ask the participants “What can we do to amplify the forces that are making us awesome?”. Write down the results in the third column. Make sure that they are described in actionable way. If you get more than 2 or 3 results let the participants vote on the actions. Ask for volunteers that will be making sure that each action will be done (They don’t necessarily have to be the ones doing the job!).
Closing of the retrospective
Do a little retro of the retro to find out how to improve the meeting.
If you try this out please get back to me with some feedback. What was good? What was bad? How could it be improved?