Bob Jiang Blog
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates said. It is true as individual, however, for a team it is also applied. If a team has no inspection, they could not know where they are, and how to achieve great success.
Recently I read a book named , written by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. In this book they mention a specific structure for a team’s reflection and adaptation:
I found this structure is very useful for me to facilitate a team’s retrospective. Then I will describe a little more about each step in this structure.
This step is to warm up or make the environment safe, and then everyone could engage in the meeting. Also there are some other aims in this step as following:
There are some activities lists for this step such as check-in, focus on/off, working agreement. Actually for check-in there are many types, which is one of ice-breaking skills.
Discuss is based on fact, not opinion. So we need to collect all data including objective and subjective. The objective ones are such as events, metrics, features or stories completed. And subjective ones are like emotion, feelings, etc. By gathering data, the team could create a shared picture about what happened, which can eliminate misunderstandings.
After gathering data, as a team, needs to find out the root cause behind the data. It means we need to discovery “why” part. For people it is easy to skip this step to jump into solution. Why do we need this step? Some time when we come to an idea, it may be right solution, but often they are not, so we need to have group discussion/wisdom to brainstorming more solutions/ideas. In this step team can go back to visit the first 3 steps to have more info.
Thousands miles are from one inch. It is good thing that we have data and insights about why it happened, but it is nothing without actions. Now it is time to describe how to achieve our item. Remember every action should have an owner/prime and date. (Have a try with SMART rules)
Close the retrospective with appreciation or a mini retrospective meeting for current one. Look at what went well and what we could do differently next time. “Inspect and Adapt” applies everywhere.
Here is the picture from , but I believe it is not only applied to software development, we can assume it is our daily work/operations in the left circle, and it is our team reflection in right side.
At the last, I would like to refer Linda Rising’s praising for this book.
Whatever you call it: retrospective, post-mortem, post-partum, post-project review. Your work can be better by stopping at regular intervals and asking, “What worked well that we don’t want to forget? What should be done differently?” It’s almost like free consulting with two of the best: Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. I facilitate retrospectives for a living and, believe me. I’m going to read my copy cover to cover-more than once!
Co-author of Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas