Here is an activity which will help you to maintain a positive and progressive culture within your retrospect.

You will need…

  • Enough index cards for two per person
  • Sharpies
  • Sitting surfaces
  • Quiet room or space

The activity

Everyone sits down as a group and is tasked with individually coming up with an idea for the smallest change that could have a positive impact on how the team works and how the team delivers value for the business. Each idea should include:

  • A brief description of the problem
  • A description of the smallest change that could be implemented
  • A brief description of the goal the change helps us move towards
  • An example of one measure which could be used to assess the success of the change if it was implemented

Once the group has done this, allow 10 to 15 minutes, then the group should come together and discuss. Go around the group one at a time and do the following for each idea:

  1. The person explains their idea: goal -> problem -> solution -> measure (maximum 1 minute)
  2. Take 20 seconds for the group to be quiet and think about what was said
  3. Have 2 minutes of discussion about the idea
  4. Move on to the next idea

Once all the ideas have been covered and discussed then each person will get 3 dot votes with which to vote for the 3 actions that they would like to see implemented. The 3 actions with the highest number of votes should be adopted by the team for the next iteration and the measurements made so that success can be monitored.

Artefacts to take away

Once this is complete you should collect all the cards together as there is some important information on these that will be useful for you to expose to the team.

Goals

You now have a collection of goals that the team thinks are important. If the goals are very varied, then this could be a good indicator that the team should work on unifying behind some central goals that everyone values. If the goals are all closely aligned, then this means that the team is largely concerned with the same thing. There are various stats you could pull such as which goals are highly regarded and which aren’t.

Problems

You now have a list of highest priority problems which the team is concerned about. There might be duplicates which means you can rank the problems in priority order. You will also be able to check whether the highest mentioned problems are the problems which are having a solution implemented for. If not, then you may want to change something about the dot voting in the next retro or run of this exercise.

Solutions and Measures

You also have a list of possible small solutions and measures which will help you to build a bank of measurables which indicate on the achievement of goals. There is huge scope of what you could do with these to start gathering more data nd building baselines ready for future iterations.

Summary

The intention of this activity is to build morale and help the team feel in control of their problems and to understand that there are things they can do to help bring those problems to a halt and resolve them. Because the focus is always on the smallest change for progress rather than dwelling on the negative the tone should remain positive and upbeat. The desire of the team to implement the ideas should also be high due to the tone of the activity.

Follow up

At some agreed point, possibly the next retrospect, you will need to follow up on the ideas identified and implemented. You should look at the data and assess whether it is having the impact you desire, you may then choose any of the following:

  • Keep the idea active
  • Refine the activity and re-implement based on the hard data
  • Drop the idea as ineffective

It is important to do this so that the team continues to establish the culture of data-driven continuous improvement.

If you would like assistance with things like this, team morale issues or anything around delivering value for your company then please get in touch using the details at the bottom of my website and we can discuss ways that we can be of service.