Better Retrospectives – Happiness Histogram

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in management, process

Effectiveness of retrospectives is still important topic for me because i don’t always see that people come out after retro with good action plan. As I was writing previously here retrospectives are very important for agile teams. They help us to look back and find ways for improvement…

Main struggle for a Scrum Master is to make people talk. We noticed that the approach described in my previous post will not necessarily lead to a discussion with good action plan (at least in our case). People sometimes complain that they have no ideas 🙂 IMHO, it happens because we are just sometimes lazy…
That’s why Scrum Masters in our teams started to look for better/additional approaches of facilitating retrospectives.

And we found it – Happiness Histogram. We selected following topics:

  • Teamwork
  • Team Performance
  • !Noise
  • Meeting yearly targets/roadmap
  • Communication with other teams
  • Internal communication

We use histograms in addition to previously described method. Workflow is the following:

  1. Team members fill in histogram with their results
  2. Team discusses results and tries to understand trends of overall mood in the team
  3. After that team continues a retrospective with previously selected approach. But they are full of ideas now 🙂

Why do I think these two approaches work better together:

  • Histograms allow people to relax and express their feelings in numbers about certain topics
  • Good approach to remember global goals and see how we approach them
  • After good initial conversation it is easier to sit down and come up with actions for Start, Stop and Continue …
  • Combining things rocks! You will never get bored…

Better retrospectives

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in personal improvement

Everybody is highlighting the importance of Retrospectives saying that this is the main tool for the Team
and Scrum Master to learn and adapt on their way to Agility or whatever you want to …

But I just had no chance to not agree with this because in any book I was reading I could find a similar statement: “Retrospectives are very valuable learning tool”. But to be honest I had controversial feelings about this “tool” (the same as my colleagues) and it was quite difficult to make it 100% useful.

We were doing retrospective in a standard way, each person loudly says what was good, bad and what need to be improved.

My frustration regarding this approach is based on following:

  • No active participation from all team members, despite the fact that everyone is encouraging others to talk
  • All people that are talking after the first person basically tend to agree to what is already shared
  • Not all opinions/suggestions are shared
  • If you have one louder (more active) person that you will get into a situation that you have a monologue

You might say that Scrum Master must solve all these issues … Well, yes. But more structure approach and not ad hoc is needed.

And recently I found very interesting article – http://agileaction.blogspot.com/2011/03/agile-retrospectives-hey-scrummaster.html

And it opened my eyes! What an elegant way to “FORCE” everyone to participate in retrospective actively!
What you get with this approach?

  • Everyone have to think
  • Everyone’s thoughts are first displayed and then grouped and discussed (not like in the previous approach where everybody agrees with the first person)
  • You get a discussion on aligning understanding of some items
  • And the best part – team votes on what they want (makes more sense) to improve next sprint.

Tried this today with the team and seems to be that everybody liked that. So, looks promising…

p.s. Looking forward reading the whole book – “Making Good Teams Great”

p.p.s. this approach is also good for brand new team members