Have you ever noticed somebody in a retrospective having trouble remembering what happened in a sprint or iteration? It can be hard to remember even 2 weeks back.
The liberating structure Spiral Journal, which is currently in development, is surprisingly effective in sharpen the focus of a team retrospective. In this post I will describe the process and share my reflections.
State the purpose of the activity; “Sharpen observational skills, and capture insight as action unfolds”
Ask the participants to divide a piece of paper in 4, by either folding twice or drawing 2 lines.
Guide participants to draw a spiral from the center, as tightly as possible, and in silence.
After few minutes, ask 4 questions one by one, and allow participants time to write their answer in to the specified square.
Ask participants to share their answers, if they want.
Reflections and observations
The questions can basically be anything, but the idea is that they should guide participants in a direction you find appropriate, for the following activity. I wanted my team to “tune-in” to what happened in the sprint, using these questions
Top-left: One impression of the last sprint?
Top-right: One thing I learned during the last sprint
Bottom-left: Name a problem that the team has, but we haven’t found the solution
Bottom right: What is the most important thing that the team discusses in today’s retro
For some, drawing a spiral on a piece paper, can be out of their comfort zone. Others might find it hard to see the purpose. Both might result in talking or even questioning the activity. Yet this exercise is so simple, that is worth giving a shot. What worked for me, when i faced resistance like this was being firm that the participants stayed silent during the activity. I told them that we would debrief afterwards and asked them to play along for now. As debrief I asked, other team members than the the most resistant one “What did you get out of this exercise?”. The answers made it so clear to everyone in the room why we did this activity, and i didn’t have to fill in a word my self. That was the moment I realised how powerful this structure is.
The feedback from the teams were: “Drawing made me forget things around me and got me in the zone”. “Reflecting on the question helped me remember what happened in the sprint, something I normally find hard”. “We spent 20% of the time, to figure out what to talk about in the retro, and 80% to discuss the actual topic”.
I highly recommend to try this out! Let me know how it goes!
I have realized that Liberating Structures are helping me being a more successful ScrumMaster. I have written about my experienced benefits of Liberating Structures as concept, as well as links to useful resources in the first post of this series. This post is about my experiences and reflection on the planning process of a workshop with use of liberating structures. The primary reason for writing about it is for the sake of my own reflection. If you can use it as well, that’s awesome. Also, if you disagree, have questions, or if you spot room for improvement, don’t hesitate to comment.
The PO of my team, who is very visionary, wanted to shake things up in a management group that she was a part of. Some very ambitious goals were set by top management, as a part of the company strategy, and she knew that for these goals to be met, this management group would have to do something completely different from what they usually did. I instantly said “yes”, when she asked me to co-facilitate the workshop, and it paid out for me with some valuable learnings Continue reading “3 lessons learned when planning a workshop with Liberating Structures”→
I have realized that Liberating Structures are helping me with being a more successful ScrumMaster. I have written about my experienced benefits of Liberating Structures as concept, as well as links to useful resources in the first post of this series. This post is about my experiences and reflection on a specific Liberating Structure. The primary reason for writing about it is for the sake of my own reflection. If you can use it as well, that’s awesome. Also, if you disagree, have questions, or if you spot room for improvement, don’t hesitate to comment.
Context and reason for choosing
The team had previously identified the need of having a Definition of Ready. Previous attempts in making a Definition of Ready has resulted in a poor list, which the team stopped referring to quickly after the meeting. And when a team member mentioned the need of a Definition of Ready, heated and unfruitful discussions emerged about should we have it or not?; What should it contain, and what not?
As a Scrum Master I needed to find a way to facilitate a discussion that gave everybody equal possibility of contributing; a feeling of being heard; ownership for decisions made, as well as doing it effectively, to avoid wasting time of worthless discussions.
The “Min Spec” is designed to Specify only the absolute “must do’s” and “must not do’s” for achieving a specific purpose so I chose this for the Team’s Definition of Ready workshop.
The group consisted of 4 people in the room, and 2 via skype, and me (facilitator)
Steps and reflections
I highly recommend to read the original Min Spec description from the inventors, which I used as basis for this Definition of Ready workshop. Below I have listed the steps I went through, along with my reflections.
As a team facilitator, your responsibility is to ensure that everybody in the group
Has equal possibilities to contribute
Feel that their input has been heard
Take ownership for whatever decision the group makes
Feel their time is well spent – Efficient and valuable
Seem like a big responsibility, and if the list makes you feel a bit anxious, I perfectly understand it, because I feel the same way. Yet, I need to say, there is more to it. Today’s world is changing faster than ever, and everybody needs to move faster. This also calls for a need to be able to foster “Creativity and Innovation” when facilitating.
Did you lose your breath now? I almost did, just by writing it!
When it comes to facilitating retrospectives, I have a decent toolbox to pick from to achieve some or all from the list above. However, I have been struggling to find ways on how to ensure equal contribution, ownership for decisions, efficient processes and room for creative thinking, outside of the retrospective.