Working in pairs with teams – During an intervention

In Agile Teams from Forming to Performing, Collaboration, facilitation, Retrospectives, Scrum, Scrum Master by chuzzeteLeave a Comment

In the previous post, I shared with you what me and my friend Stephane Bourque did together to prepare our intervention with a team in a sprint retrospective.

In this second part of the story, I will walk you through my views about what we did together once we got to work with a team:

  1. Share our intentions upfront. We explained the team why we were working in pairs with them, who would play which role during the meeting (facilitator and observer), and what we intended to do with them (in this case, help them create a plan to take action to continue improving).
  2. Explain how we would proceed (proposed process/agenda for the meeting). I had prepared some activities to held the sprint retrospective with the team:
    1. A check-in (Kudos),
    2. Tell a partner how the sprint was (find a partner to share with him how was it and write down in a post-it what was the most important thing you’ve noticed)
    3. Share your insides with the team
    4. Let’s decide what to do based on gathered insights
    5. Close the retrospective by verifying if the team wanted us to continue helping them, based on the experience they would have during the meeting.
  3. But before starting with the proposed agenda, let’s verify what the team wants. I have got great results by asking the team first what they want to do with their time before jumping in with my proposed agenda. I try my best to do it consistently as a good practice before starting any meeting.
  4. For the observer, to keep all its senses open and alert. We agreed that Stephane would observe what follows:
    1. Non Verbal communication
    2. The tone of my voice
    3. The amount of time I would spent speaking compared to the team.
    4. The impact of my interventions in the team’s mood
    5. How safe would you feel in the room to talk and share ideas with others.
    6. Was the team able to come up with an actionable plan to continue improving?
    7. Do they want to keep going?
  5. The one rule: Let each other play its role but. No matter what happened during the meeting, we agreed to keep playing each others roles, to be able to give us proper feedback afterwards and validate if we were up to the task to work in pairs again. Having that said, if in any case we felt the need to intervine, then just raising a hand would be enough to do it. As I said in my previous post, if you want to work in pairs you need to trust your partner.
  6. Give each other space to experiment and learn from it. Both of us tried different things during our intervention and it was ok to do it, given that our main goal was to work in pairs to learn from each other approaches and techniques by living it.
  7. Save time for both ways feedback (Stay open and ready to be surprised). Once the sprint retrospective was done, we spent at least 1 hour together to gave us feedback back about what happened during the meeting and how we though we did it together. Once you’ve got here, we paid special attention to:
    1. Listen actively to each other. I like to start providing feedback by asking the receiver how it felt it was and then I ask permission to share what I’ve observed.
    2. Stay open to comments, constructive criticism and feedback.
    3. Be brutally honest and truth.
    4. Refraise what the other one said, to avoid misinterpretations.
    5. Be humble and kind with each other.
  8. Thank the other person for caring. You have done it together, it took time and effort to get to the end of the working in pairs exercise, so remember to say thank you to your partner. You have received a gift that is precious, so take it.

Trans-forming though of the week

I have learned a lot about my self and my partner all along the exercise. I have grown and learn new tricks, a different point of view and perspective about what I do and I could see the positive impact that it had over the team.

What opportunities you oversee for yourself to give it a try?

What would it take for you to ask for help and work in pair with somebody else?

What is holding you back?

I wish you could find some answers to these questions and shared with me and my readers. Would you?

All the best



  1. Pingback: Week 7: Rapid Ideation session exercise #2 (pt.1) – Working in pairs and ideation process – Astrid Arismendi Diaz

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.