Friday, June 12, 2009

my favorite lines from Derby/Larsen's Agile Retrospectives

A retrospective needs to happen in several phases:
  • setting the stage (why are we here, time line, and check-in)
  • data collection (put all the facts in front of the whole team)
  • interpretation (as a group, look for patterns)
  • decisions (propose options, then decide on what can be done by whom, when, and define acceptance criteria for the work)
  • closure (ensure tasks have been assigned, thank participants)
The authors have lots of hints on how to facilitate group discussion (now we'll see if I can do all this in French):
  • ask the group to build working agreements, and then just remind them to follow their own rules when necessary
  • at every meeting, get every person to speak in the first 5 minutes
  • check your assumptions... ask people what they think! pose clarifying questions to make sure you understand!
  • to help everyone have a voice, incorporate small group work in the meeting
  • retrospectives are for creative thinking--so do use innovative meeting formats
  • when the facilitator speaks, this often stops group discussion
  • when the group is stuck, ask them questions, e.g. about when they saw a similar problem in the past
  • when things get heated, try asking "what is going on?/what just happened?"
  • use a change in venue when the team bombs an iteration
They also present lots of group exercises, that I won't repeat here... I keep the book handy for retrospective preparation. These are a few general hints for leading group activities:
  • most people can't absorb multi-step instructions
  • debrief every activity
  • after giving instructions, ask for questions
  • shuffle time--it takes a few minutes every time we switch tasks in a meeting to get everyone on board with the next meeting--it could be 15 percent of the time!

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