Retrospective Experience – Asking Questions

We’re close to a big release and things have been going well – think 200%+ increase in velocity from when we started the release (and we were good already ) – but our last couple of retrospectives felt a little flat, possibly because the big wins have already been made. I wanted a technique to really get the team involved.

Back to Basic

In my research, I went back to the old favourite Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives written by Luis Gonçalves and Ben Linders .

“Asking Questions” is aimed at new scrum masters who have never facilitated a retrospective before, so I decided to tweak the format a little.

Tweak 1

Rather than asking the question, I printed them out, cut them up and put them all in a pile in the middle of the table. Importantly, the questions are all folded up so you can’t tell what piece of paper held what question.

Tweak 2

Rather than the Scrum Master asking the question, taking turns, I asked each team member to pick a question from the pile, read it out to the team and then give an answer. The rest of the team were then encouraged to discuss the response.

I’m pleased to say this lead to a lot more group involvement than the last couple of retrospectives and we managed to find a couple of tweaks as well as a bit of forward planning for the next release.

Summary

The book says this is a great technique to use if you’ve never facilitated a retrospective before. The tweaks I made may or may not help this, but it certainly got the team involved and resulted in some great actions.

So another fantastic technique that I would recommend to a newbie or expert Scrum Master, especially if they want fantastic team engagement.

I’d be really interested to hear anyone trying this technique in the comments below or catch me on twitter if you prefer.

Personal Retrospective

What went well

  • Adapting the “beginners” technique to increase team involvement
  • Sitting with the team, rather than standing at the front or walking around the room seemed to increase team participation

What could I have done better?

  • Changed the wording of the questions from “what could you” to “what could we

What should I not do again?

  • Not spell check the questions

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