Purpose of the exercise: The goal of this retrospective is to start the conversation within the team about the team’s development process, in this case, by using the Agile-Scrum framework. By asking open ended questions, the facilitator will help the team discover the areas of improvement identified by the team, help with clarifying some concepts and show the team how easy it is to inspect and adapt their own development process.

Pre-requisites: Agile-Scrum at a Glance – Baseline[1] for Scrum teams or an image from the internet of the agile framework used by the team,  a facilitator, a board, some markers, some post-its and a good attitude.

Preparation: 20 minutes to print out the required material, write on the board four bubbles and the four agile values for them (using the Agile Values Cheers Up exercises references below) and create the Retro dart[2] flip chart.

How many participants: minimum one, maximum to be determined.

Time required: Between fifty (50) minutes and one (1) hour, depending on how engaged the team is when discussing improvements.

Recommended: This activity can be used with new teams (everybody is new), when a new member is joining the scrum team or even when the Scrum Master/Agile Coach/Facilitator is the one joining the team. The main focus of the activity is to get alignment about the Scrum framework, which could be used to guiding the Scrum Master/Agile Coach/Facilitator with:

  • What needs to be improved and in which order (priority)?
  • What is not clear/unknown about the scrum framework? (What requires reinforcement?)
  • What’s working and what’s not?

Iteration Retrospective proposed agenda

  • Set the stage – Agile Values Cheers Up[1] by Jesus Mendez
  • Gather data – Agile Scrum at a Glance[6]  -> Explore and identify
  • Generate insights – Agile Scrum at a Glance[6] -> Discuss
  • Decide what to do – Agile Scrum at a Glance[6] -> Group and decide
  • Close retrospective – Retro dart[4] by Philipp Flenker[5]

Instructions

1) Set the stage – Agile Values Cheers Up (15 to 20 minutes) 

Welcome participants to the iteration retrospective and once everyone is in, present your proposed agenda, previously created. Once you have finished, ask the following question “Is there any other subject that you would prefer to discuss instead?” And wait for answers. If somebody proposes a topic, ask the team what they want to do? And follow whatever they want. If the team chooses your proposed agenda then go to the next step. If they don’t then skip this exercise and facilitate the ‘new’ conversation without any regrets.

  • Ask participants to write down instances when their colleagues have displayed one of the agile values.
    • 1 cheerful sticky note per example.
  • In turn, let everyone post their note in the corresponding bubble and read them out loud.
  • Rejoice in how you embody agile core values.

2) Explore & identify (5 minutes)

  • Share a copy of the Agile–framework at a glance baseline image[1] that you have printed out previously, with each participant.
  • Ask the team to take a look at the “Agile –framework at a glance baseline image” and ask them to write down one issue per post-it, about those areas in the chart that: (1) Require some kind of improvement (2) Are not clear/unknown.
  • Note: it’s up to the facilitator to limit the amount of reported issues, so you can reach the time frame that works best for you.
  • Set a time frame between three (3) to five (5) minutes, and then let the team alone write down the issues found.
  • Once the time frame is reached, ask the team if anybody needs more time. If the answer is no, then move on to the next step.

3) Discuss (30 minutes)

  • Open the floor to discussion by asking for volunteers to expose identified issues.
  • At this point of the activity, it’s suggested to ask open ended questions in order to clarify each identified issue. Questions such as:
    • What is important about the issue that you are presenting to us?
    • What have you considered when raising the issue?
  • Once everybody has presented their own issue, it’s time to move on to the next step.

4) Group and decide (15 to 20 minutes)

  • Now that everything has been discussed, ask for a volunteer to help the team with grouping all the post-its, by using the areas available in the “Agile – framework at a glance baseline image”.
  • Give the team some dot stickers to vote (usually I will give each team member 1 vote).
  • Once everybody has dot voted, ask them to organize the identified issues in order, based on how many dot votes each issue received.
  • Now ask the team to identify one action that will help the team with improving each identified issue.
  • Note: If something is not clear/unknown it is up to you to decide when to explain it. Although, I usually do it once the question is raised.

5) Close retrospective – Retro dart (5 minutes)

  • Close the retrospective by thanking everyone for their hard work during the session.
  • Invite the team to answer the three questions asked in the Retro dart flip chart posted on the door at the entrance to the room before leaving, by sticking their name and answers, one per post it, on each of the three questions.

Expected outcome

  • Common and shared understanding about where the team is regarding the agile framework.
  • Things that are considered important about the team’s development process are shared.
  • The team is empowered to adapt its own development process to its own needs.
  • A high level actionable improvement plan has been created by the team.
  • The first seed for a self-organized team has been deployed.

Willing to get more techniques for transforming your teams into high-performing sustainable Agile teams?

Here some options to help you out:

  1. Get your copy of my worbook “Forming Agile Teams” now.
  2. Register in my upcoming working “Coaching teams during iteration/sprint planning“.

References

[1] Jesus Mendez, “Agile-Scrum at a glance – baseline”, http://tastycupcakes.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Agile-Scrum-At-Glance-Baseline.pdf

[2] Plan for retrospectives, “Retro Dart”, http://plans-for-retrospectives.com/?id=83

[3] Plan for retrospectives, “Agile Values Cheers Up”, http://plans-for-retrospectives.com/?id=90

[4] Plan for retrospectives, “Retro Dart”, http://plans-for-retrospectives.com/?id=83

[5] Phillip Flenker, “Retro Dart”, http://www.philippflenker.de/

[6] Agile for All,” The Agile Scrum framework at a glance”, https://www.google.ca/search?q=agile+scrum+at+glance&rls=com.microsoft:en-US:%7Breferrer:source%3F%7D&rlz=1I7GGLL_en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj90YKn24DNAhUPxCYKHY_aDgsQ_AUIBygB&biw=1366&bih=643#imgrc=OrsVBpuY5UVQYM%3A