Retrospective Experience – 6 Thinking Hats

To make the team think a different way during the retrospective I decided to try 6 Thinking Hats. Were used to saying what went well and what didnt, so I thought this would be a good way to get some different discussions going.

I was a little nervous beforehand as the description warns about something Ive been struggling with in previous sprints, namely facilitating rather than controlling. So at least the technique forced me to deal with that head on!

Tip: The facilitator should try to stay out of the circle and try to avoid the participants talking directly to them

I was also a little worried that I was flooding the team with lots of new techniques, so we used ESVP as a check-in exercise like we did a few sprints ago. This not only did the job of getting everyone off their feet, but we had a much better split of positive over negative categories this time, so it gave me a nice boost too.

Gather Data, Generate Insights and Decided What To Do

Things started slowly as we didnt really know what we were doing (see Personal Retrospective below) and were not used to Blue hat thinking, but once we got onto topics we felt comfortable with the meeting progressed well.

I found facilitation to be quite hard to begin with, as it seemed like the team were stopping to see what I wrote on the board, but again, that seemed to improve as time went on.

Finally, I wont go into the actual details, but the meeting ended on a really positive note and there seemed to be a real air of optimism for the next sprint. It will be interesting to see if thats something this technique brings, or we just had a good retrospective. It was certainly more noticeable than previous retrospectives, but that could be coincidence.


The exercise started slowly with the team talking directly to me, but as things progressed and we got onto topics were more comfortable with what went well, what went badly time started to fly.

Im lucky as I have several strong characters who are more than willing to lead such a debate (which could be a bad thing if they dominate), but if I didnt, Im sure there are ways around that.

Overall, I think its a good exercise to conduct and one Ill certainly use again.

Personal Retrospective

What went well?

  • The team produced some good insights, which is a good sign we can become more self-organising;

What could I have done better?

  • A team member mentioned that the strictness of the hats meant he couldnt/didnt say something when he thought of it and then forgot. I could provide pen and paper or perhaps tell everyone that than anything could be mentioned and if its not allowed well note it for later;
  • I dont think the time slots of 10 minutes needs to be a strict rule. Next time, well treat it as a time-box, rather than we must talk for 10 minutes.

What should I not do again?

  • Im not convinced I explained the hats particularly well, so next time Ill try to give examples of each before starting the exercise.
  • Related to that, I didnt use the results from the previous hats to guide the conversation for subsequent hats particularly well. During the write up I noticed a few facts we didnt discuss.

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