I still work as a Scrum Master and look for opportunities to improve processes. Today I want to talk about the idea of a retrospective. Any resemblance to typeplates you’ve ever seen is pure coincidence.
I called this team retrospective format Climbing Mount Foreverest. The task that I set myself when developing this format was to involve all team members in the retrospective process itself, to find out exactly their opinion and hear exactly their ideas. I don’t know about you, but I have come across the fact that traditional retro formats do not allow to reveal the potential of everyone – either there is not enough time, or the format itself helps the silent people to remain in the shadows. I tried different formats, but always came to the conclusion that they did not suit me to the fullest. What about teams? The teams were also willing to try something new. So, the requirements for the new form of conducting a retrospective, in addition to involvement, are: clearness of the rules, ease of deployment, good ratio of time spent to the result obtained, speed of processing the information received. Having made a list of requirements, I began to visualize the concept.
Let’s start with the image. Usually this is a table in different variations of pillars and columns. I decided to use a unifying figure – a circle. From the image of a circle, the image of a mountain appeared by itself – he simply superimposed several circles on top of each other. The image of the mountain as a clear and bright target. The circles became steps – something like “five whys”, threw ropes for our climbers – the lines of movement of the participants. Everyone has their own route, the guys will approach the mountain from different sides, but they will have a common goal – to get to the top and meet there. And when you tell all this to the team that sees such a format for the first time in their life, give them a minute to gather their thoughts, strength, perhaps ask questions and get answers to them, and only then start climbing.
Now about the mechanics. I wanted to keep two lines for analysis – what works, which means it’s worth keeping, and what raises questions, which means it can be improved. I believe that it is always necessary to highlight the positive aspects of our activities – in my opinion this helps to move forward. So, each participant has two cards and develops two themes with each stage of the ascent, first working independently. Thus, we will receive an input from each team member. It may happen that someone cannot move on for various reasons, and then he can request help from the team on his own, or through the rally facilitator. My teams have not done this, but I believe that this situation can happen. The number of steps are not mandatory in terms of quantity, but rather have an auxiliary function for moving in the right direction, like the steps of a ladder. The task is different – to approach the top with an understanding of the causes and consequences of the situation under discussion. That is, conscious fragmentation of the problem will help to get to the bottom of the causes. If something works out well, let’s find out why and keep it. If there is room for improvement, let’s start with the reason for an action item to be really effective. You can offer a logic 5 why or just think logically – usually the teams know the system in which they work and such a mini-research will be interesting for them.
At the top of the mountain, we meet and analyze our routes by reviewing them. Each of the participants presents their stickers, explains the logic of reasoning in them and the result obtained – conclusions. Based on the conclusions, the team formulates an action item and it is assigned to the responsible person, the date of feedback from the responsible person is determined – all this can be indicated in the card. Setting a feedback date is extremely important and should be as realistic as possible (remember to try to reduce the feedback loop), but also effective. Here it is important to be able to calculate your strength.
When the ascent is over and the action items are determined, I open the center of the circle and the participants see a prize – for example, a chocolate bar, but you can put certificates or promotional codes there) In my opinion, this playful way increases the value of the event. I express my sincere gratitude to the participants for x involvement and productivity.
It is important to find out at the end of the retrospective how they feel after the ascent. I’m asking for ratings from 1 to 5, but I think you can even limit yourself to ratings from 1 to 3 or three colors. You can also come up with your own identifiers, such as icons.
For me, this format is interesting primarily because the individual work, with which the participants begin, gradually develops into a group work. Moreover, this transition often passes naturally, and therefore with the greatest benefit. Focus and support. Like a real climb. It is important that the facilitator explains what he expects from the participants during the rally and sets them up for work. The icebreaker in this case will be the story itself that we are going to climb to the top of a mountain of doubts, which not everyone submits to. Climbing Foreverest is a difficult task that only a close-knit team can do. In the next retrospectives, the icebreaker will be the memory of the ascent or comic photos, in which the participants are depicted as conquerors of Foreverest.
In my opinion, this format should not be used for newly formed teams – it is somewhat complex and requires some grinding. But nevertheless, it is suitable for teams going through the storming stage.