Because we needed a subject we could all relate to, we decided to discuss retrospective anti-patterns during the fishbowl.
I recorded each anti-pattern that was mentioned, so we could use them later during the brainwriting exercise.
After the tutorial, Claudia Melo asked me if I could share the results of the brainwriting exercise. Because it is physically impossible for me to say no to a Brazilian woman, I summarized the results in this blog post.
Each Anti-Pattern has multiple to suggestions to counter it. Because not all reflect my personal opinion, I have added my own suggestions in blue.
1. People are only whining
- Use questions that focus on “area’s to improve”, not “what went wrong”.
- Focus on concrete things, not general ones.
- Try to look for solutions (action points) instead of looking for reasons.
- Use exercises to find the root cause.
- Ask whiner: “How would you solve it? What can we do about it?”.
- Try to use tracking.
- Future! We!
2. Hurry – Time pressure – Let’s get it over with!
- Try to get senior management support.
- Prioritize important subjects other than just delivery of value.
- Search for quality.
- Focused time-boxed activities like “brainwriting” and “time-boxed fishbowl”.
- Prioritize instead of plan.
- Learn how to say “No” to managers.
- Get an external facilitator or try to coach the internal facilitator.
- Try to schedule retrospective like a normal task, maybe?
3. No preparation
- Reserve time-boxed slot the day before to do the preparation.
- Give responsibility of preparation to each team member.
- Assign responsibilities to each person.
- Make them want to be prepared => they should feel that their opinion is important and problems are being fixed.
- Create a board with the iteration days and ask people to put issues up as soon as they notice them.
- Give the facilitator some time to prepare and offer help.
4. Actions not part of the next sprint
- Include them as a part of a sprint (at least the ones which are most important to the team) no matter what.
- Reserve time-boxed slot of the team to decide what to do with them.
- Make them regular tasks with people responsible for.
- Check if they have been done during the next retrospective.
- They should feel free to solve appropriate actions.
- Put documentation from retrospective on display => create a board and put the issues there as ‘tasks’ (as kanban).
5. Two Person discussion
- Define a time-box to limit these discussions.
- Brutally break discussion: “some other stuff?”
- Use different dynamics.
- Split and join groups
- Small groups work on questions.
- Whole group discusses together.
- in general: more structured activities.
- Work as a group on the two different opinions and work towards a shared solution.
6. Dismiss other people’s ideas
- Make it a rule to suggest improvements when dismissing someone else’s idea.
- Generate ideas without discussing.
- Vote the different ideas of a discussion.
- Repeat the purpose and rules at the beginning of each retrospective.
- Raise it as an issue and work as a group to gain insight of the consequences.
- Try to find the root cause of the discussion.
- Let them see the consequences of dismissing other people’s ideas by asking questions.
7. Skipping retrospectives
- Do some dynamics to have fun (and useful).
- Ask them what they don’t like about retrospectives, what makes them not wanting to attend.
- Create a group tradition of happy-hour after a (time-boxed) retrospective.
- Make sure the team is empowered to take on the decided actions.
- Do a team building exercise.
- Keep it interesting by introducing new exercises and making sure improvements get follow-up.
8. Not checking results
- Change facilitator.
- Make results visible on charts, etc.
- Assign an owner to each action item.
- Agree with the facilitator to check results in each retrospective.
- Put decided actions in a visible colorful place.
I really enjoyed the workshop and the enthusiasm of all participants! Like in a good retrospective, it felt like we all contributed and learned from each other.