Sep 16, 2009

Retrospectives - Preparation

A) Get smart (3 hours)

-I got a copy of Agile Retrospectives - Making good teams great and skimmed thru it quickly (1 hour) to identify relevant techniques for this discussion (FYI, I read it earlier this year, so skimming was possible).

- I attended other retrospectives - one in person (1 hour) and another on the phone (1 hour)

- I discussed it with a colleague who's good at facilitating retrospectives

B) Get data
(2 hours)

- I interviewed team members - spoke to business (sponsor, program manager) and IT (BA, tech lead, portfolio lead) teams to identify relevant topics, as well as understand why past retrospectives weren't perceived to be useful

- I learned that data gathering took a lot of time in previous retrospectives (teleconference with 20 people in 6-7 geographic locations), and was one of the reasons why the team could not engage in effective root cause identification and action planning for continuous improvement.

I wanted to eliminate this friction by making data gathering about the product and the process super easy. So I created a survey to identify team's strengths and opportunities. I added team barometer questions to get the pulse of the team and launched an anonymous 15-minute survey (30 questions* with satisfaction scale) to minimize team's time investment and to capture their actual feeling/emotions.

C) Analyze data (1 hour)

The survey response was fantastic (100% participation by team members). I extracted the data into a spreadsheet to find patterns (team's interpretation of their strengths/opportunities, disconnect between IT and Business' satisfaction).

D) Share data with the team before the retrospective (5 mins)

I emailed survey results to the team before the retrospective so that they could understand and reflect on it and share insights on the day.

E) Prepare discussion deck (1 hour)

I quickly crafted a deck with the process/agenda

B) * Survey questions

Please rate your level of satisfaction with the following

1. Overall release.

2. We achieved the intended outcome of the project.

3. Our product quality is high.

4. We addressed the most important (high business value) product areas in this release.

5. The project was well scoped and structured with clear objectives and deliverables.

6. Team problem solving sessions were productive and collaborative.

7. My team worked well and there was an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

8. Team members had clear roles that made us more effective.

9. I'm satisfied with my personal development on this project (learning).

10. Team members had enough time to meet their commitments.

11. We gave constructive feedback to each other for improvement.

12. All team members were committed to project success.

13. Development process was well understood by all stakeholders and effective.

14. We improved in each sprint.

15. We released working software that delivered business value frequently.

16. The team was in-sync on impediments, progress, plan etc. on a regular basis (standups).

17. All stakeholders understood well what could be achieved in each sprint (planning).

18. We got frequent feedback from our stakeholders (reviews).

19. Our retrospectives were useful (good return on time invested).

20. We had clear ways of determining when a story was complete.

21. Our questions were answered in the shortest possible time.

22. This team knows how to have fun together.

23. Team relationships are stronger because of past conflict.

24. Conflicts in the team were not denied/avoided and were mostly resolved to satisfaction.

25. People did not withhold their feelings.

26. Tasks were assigned based on team member's strengths and availability.

27. Everyone was willing to pitch in and help each other.

28. Other firm members talk about the effectiveness of this team.

29. Team output was much greater than what team members could achieve individually.

30. I'm proud of what we've produced.

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