Wednesday, January 23, 2013

PMI-ACP® PREP: Agile Retrospectives


Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby & Diana Larsen

What's On the Exam

First, review my favorite ideas from the book, published previously. The following is what's important for the exam.

Know the phases of a retrospective, and what a retrospective facilitator does in each phase
  • Set the Stage (sets scope & timebox of meeting; helps people warm up to the space & get present)
  • Gather Data (collects multiple perspectives in a way that no one dominates)
  • Generate Insights (asks the team to interpret what they see)
  • Decide What to Do (asks the team if they'd like to propose any changes based on what they've just discussed; limit this to 3 changes or less until the next retro!)
Know this acronym and when it's used (SMART goals are proposed changes during Decide What to Do; the criteria for evaluating whether it's an attainable goal are below):
     SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely

May be on the Exam, in a General Sense

Facilitation Tips
     begin by asking everyone to speak
     notice who didn't chime in, and ask for their opinion
     "if we had that, what would we gain?"
     observe: "I'm hearing labels and 'you' language"
     observe: "I'm hearing side conversations"
     steer: "can you say that using 'I' language?"
     "What just happened?"
     at the board: write down the exact words of the speaker
     once it's written down, some people drop an issue; remind them to own it
     if the leader speaks, it "quashes group discussion"
     set up deliberately, simple instructions, ask for questions
     debrief every activity
     ask the team to monitor their own working agreements
     point to a working agreement posted on the wall rather than interrupt verbally
     your primary responsibility is to the needs of the team, not to individuals
     examine both facts and feelings

Retrospective Tips
     avoid the F word ("feelings")-- ask about high points & low points, excitement & dread
     do your homework before a retro -- check your assumptions, find out what to focus on
     plan for shuffle time (unusable time between activities as people move to another seat or stand up)
     change rooms for a fresh perspective
     change seating arrangements -- semicircle to open, small circles for working groups
     do pair interviews
     we want to break habitual thinking, so change the format
     take time to develop concrete plans for achieving any retrospective actions--plan together!
     pick only 1 or 2 experiments for the next iteration
     Change pattern: loss, chaos & disorientation, idea clicks, practice & integration

Not on the Exam

The following isn't likely to show up on the exam, but I've included it as a guide to remember what's in the book. Brief game descriptions follow this next block quote; refer to the book for more detail.

Set the Stage: (check in; focus-on, focus-off; ESVP [explorers, shoppers, vacationers, prisoners]; working agreements)
Gather Data (timeline; triple nickels; color code dots; mad sad glad; locate strengths; satisfaction histogram; team radar; like to like)
Generate Insights: (brainstorming-filtering; force field analysis; five whys; fish bone; patterns & shifts; prioritize with dots; report out with synthesis; identify themes; learning matrix)
Decide What to Do: (retrospective planning game; SMART goals; circle of questions; short subjects)
Close the Retrospective: (+/delta; appreciations; temperature reading; helped, hindered, hypothesis; return on time invested)
Focus On / Focus Off
     Inquiry… rather than Advocacy
     Dialogue… rather than Debate
     Conversation…. rather than Argument
     Understanding… rather than Defending

Triple Nickels
     (break out into groups of 3-5 people)
     5-min: Silently, on a sheet of paper, brainstorm on what to do.
     5-min: pass it on, build upon the ideas on your neighbor's sheet
     5-min: repeat up to 5 times

Color Code Dots
     do a Timeline, then use color to indicate how you felt about those events

Mad Sad Glad
     write on color coded index cards, add to wall

Identify Strengths
     pair up; interview the other party
     ask about the high point(s) of something big--the release, a person's career

Satisfaction Histogram
     on a scale of 1-5, dot how you feel our team is doing

Team Radar
     similar to a Blond ROTI
     scale of 0-10, name several axes

Like to Like
     everyone writes 3 cards each (9 total): keep doing; stop doing; start doing
     take turns; do apples to apples judging; give winner the cards

Force Field Analysis
     list enablers and detractors to this change
     draw arrows towards the center line, thickness indicates strength

     Problem, who, what, when, where, why

Patterns and Shifts
     (after a timeline or mad sad glad)
     ask: where do you see patterns?
     where did things shift?
     do you see connections between events?
     how do these patterns or shifts connect to our current problems?

Dot Voting
     quantity of dots should be about 1/3 or 1/2 total choices available
     (greatly influenced by the question):
     What is most important?
     What will have the greatest impact?
     What do you want to work on most?

Circle of Questions
     use it to decide what to do.
     clockwise talking stick; first person asks 1 question, next person answers
     after answering, become the questioner, on a follow-up question or new topic

Plus/Delta Variants

Temperature Reading
     Explain each of the following sections; pause for people to respond.
     Complaints with Recommendations
     New Information
     Hopes & Wishes


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