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Tired of the same boring retrospectives?Kevin Maes
Something artistic maybe?
Time to shake up our retrospectives
In Agile project management, it’s really important to reflect on what could be improved. Continuous evaluation needs to be driven from within the team. During retrospectives everyone can give their remarks and suggest improvements. All input is considered valuable. However, you need ownership of the team members to get the improvements out in the open. Before the team can evolve, the team members themselves have to be involved.During the last few retrospectives I noticed the engagement going down a bit. Team members were less connected with the outcome of the meeting and the actions to be taken. Everybody was just adding his comments, but there was no real involvement.
A team full of artists
To get the right spirit back, I tried a more fun approach: “Artistic Retrospectives”. No more writing, everybody had to draw their remarks. Drawing a problem triggers more senses and pulls people into the meeting. They have to explain what exactly they produced on that piece of paper.
Drawing is creative, it needs some extra effort to make a good visual. Drawing is also analytical, you need to think about the problem first. Then you have to analyze what’s going on, before translating it into a drawing everybody understands.
A drawing can also visualize the weight or urgency of the issue. How does a person feel within the team? Does he put a lot of effort into drawing a good visual? Or maybe he has already given up on the situation?
It’s not a matter of who has the best drawing skills! We probably won’t discover the next Leonardo Da Vinci or Andy Warhol. But everyone can draw: stick figures, icons, smileys, etc.
I told the team about the new plan for the retrospectives. There was some mumbling, laughter or even mocking among the critics. It took them a while to get over the mind-switching hurdle. But then the creativeness started to work and it spread across the room.
Check out the result of our retrospective:
The drawings themselves weren’t all self-explaining. But the written sentences on post-its we did previously often needed extra information as well. An extra benefit: when looking back to the board, you relive all the funny interpretations and discussions from during the retrospective.
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It was a fun meeting, the feedback was very positive and the energy/involvement was back. We probably won’t do this during all our retrospectives, but it’s a fun way to change every once in a while to keep the spirit alive.
In the end, the wanted outcome of retrospectives are the action items and that’s what we got…