I have heard from a lot of PMs that it is hard to involve the team into retrospective process. Team members are usually enthusiastic about discussing complaints, what the idiot is the customer (yes, I know that you don’t have that in your team, as all of you respect your customer, you have a great atmosphere in the team. But I do have these problems in my teams). When I try to ask the developers some more constructive questions – I get something like “Everything was ok” from the developer. How to get more?
Sometimes I am standing in front of the team, which is comfortably sitting in the chairs and looking at me, with their faces showing “Hm..one more meeting…what does that PM need? We didn’t have this crap with the previous PM!”. And I am thinking how to awake them, make the part of the process, share their thoughts (you’ll be surprised, how many great thoughts can developers come up with).
Usually I use some activities, which help to awake everyone in the room and make their brains work a bit. Some time ago I came across the idea to visualize the team mood during the sprint. The idea is to show “what happened during the sprint” and the team members mood connected/not connected to these events.
You will need: board/flip chart, markers, team.
Drawing (5-7 min):
PM/Scrum master draws two axis – the horizontal one shows the “time”, vertical one is for “mood”. Time axis should have all your sprint days marked. PM puts all the sprint events, which matter to the team. After that it is time to have some physical activity – all the team members get up and join PM near the board. They have to draw their mood every day of the sprint. Events on the line help a lot when it comes to remembering what we were doing at that day.
As the result you’ll get something like that:
Note: Don’t ask developers drawing their mood one by one when all the rest of the team is looking at them. It is very hard to show your real bad mood on the graph, especially if others were optimistic.
Yarrr, you did the hardest thing! All of you had to get up and draw something, argue about who will get the pink marker. Now it is time to discuss the result.
Discussion (up to 15 min):
I bet you’ll se the interesting things on the graph. For example, if your team was honest enough – you’ll see that they were not so happy, as you thought. Great! it’s time to discuss, why and what do they think about all this stuff.
To be discussed:
- Sudden changes in curve (drop down, dramatic rise)
- The same, or quite the opposite reaction of the team to the event
- “Sad” curve of one of the members
- Too happy curve (looks like this guy was not with you all the sprint!)
Now it is time to turn to the retrospective. You had a great push to discuss the events, remember, what you did during the sprint. This can be the first part of the retrospective.
The resulting graph should be located in the team’s room. I bet everyone who enters the room will ask “What is this? I want this for our team too!”.
Just imagine, how hard it is to answer the question ‘How was your mood during the sprint?”. You’ll probable hear “Everything was ok”. Especially, if the management is present on the meeting. In our company we have regular PM meetings, where our bosses can be present. PMs are expected to tell about the issues on their projects, teams, etc. Can you imagine PM standing up and saying “Everything is worther than I expected, I failed, team failed…”. This PM will probable found himself in the list of whiners and a defeatists.
So I proposed PMs to do the same. All the people present on the meeting had to draw their mood (yep, the boss too!). Here is the example:
And the example of the positive graph, so you won’t thing it’s a disaster on all my projects.