I wanted a special retrospective for a newly-formed scrum team for whom I am scrum master (more accurately, “squad” and “squad master”, thanks to Trade Me taking inspiration from Spotify).
As I reflected that the team is a new ‘marriage’ of skills, staff and perspectives, an old wedding rhyme came to mind:
I was inspired to turn these into reflection categories, and out came my idea for a new information gathering technique:
Something Old – Positive feedback or constructive criticism on established practice.
Something New – Positive feedback or constructive criticism on experiments in progress.
Something Borrowed – Tool/idea from another squad, the Web or yourself for a potential experiment.
Something Blue – Any blocker or source of sadness for you.
With these categories up on the whiteboard, I gave my squad sticky notes and asked them to stick up anything that’s on their mind. All categories were optional. My only rule was:
If you contribute to the Something Blue category, you must also have a positive comment in at least one other category.
I was afraid that the categories would not be clear and distinct enough, but we got a really nice spread across the columns and the main goal was achieved: ideas came to the surface.
Filtering / Retrospective
We then quickly clustered the stickies according to how they related to the same discussion topics.
We set the agenda with dot voting, and held the discussion lean coffee styles. Some discussions were just good sharing or encouragement. Some discussions resulted in new experiments (I will write about our Agile Experiments board in a future post).
Feedback was positive and someone even asked to use the format again. 3 votes was a good number for 6 people dot-voting. 4 minutes worked well for a topic checkpoint timer.
Overall, our first sprint felt suitably ‘consecrated’!
Suggestions for improvement welcome.