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Making Good Teams Great with Innovation Games

Diana Larsen and Esther Derby’s book “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great” is fantastic. It describes 5 step approach to run retrospectives with Agile Teams. It goes like this:

  1. Set the stage
  2. Gather data
  3. Generate insights
  4. Decide what to do
  5. Close the retrospective

This is great advice for any meeting, but it works particularly well with retrospectives. Luke Hohmann’s Innovation Games lend themselves well to this too.

Set the Stage

Creating a working agreement with a team can be a challenge. This is especially the case when in the Storming phase. It can be hard to avoid diving into the issues you need to address at the team level during the retro. Often the stage is set with the facilitator standing at a white board asking for suggestions. This can suffice, but it may not engage everyone and achieve buy in. How about using Prune the Product Tree instead? Acceptable behaviours are parts of the tree, fruit on the tree as successful outcomes. You can scribe these into a working agreement.

Gather Data

Help the team remember what happened in an iteration before insight generation. Remembering what happened an important part of the team’s warm up. Use Start Your Day with a poster that covers the days of the iteration. Get each member of the team to put the key events as they remember them, and come up with a shared story of what took place.

Generate Insights

The team is now warmed up with a shared understanding of what happened. Time to use Speed Boat to help them understand what was good and not so good. Help the team to generate SMART, actionable objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).

Decide What to Do

With many potential actions, it is important to make sure you prioritise the list. The team should only work on the ones which they feel will be most effective. Use 20:20 Vision to help them decide where their focus for improvement will be in the next iteration.

Close the Retrospective

Before wrapping up, use Remember the Future. This will help the team understand how they will achieve the goals which they have set for themselves.

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