Sunday, February 28, 2021
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Many Retrospectives in the Agile world tend to follow the “what went well”, “what problems did we encounter”, followed by actions for improvement. I call this the WWW (what went well) retrospective. While this serves as a practical retrospective, did you know that there is no one specific retrospective practice expected by Agile? The Agile principle only asks that “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” Even Scrum is not specific. Per the Scrum Guide, it suggests that a retrospective “is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness”.
If you are applying the “what went well” type of retrospective, would you like to experience something new, a more adventurous retrospective? Allow me to introduce you to “A Rose by any other Name” Retrospective or Rose Retrospective.
This is a botanical approach that uses the parts of the rose to explore how things are going and what you can do to improve. The parts of the rose that we explore during this retrospective are the Flower, the, Thorn, and Bud. To put some color to these parts, here are some definitions:
- Flower: This highlights the positives, what you're happy about or what is going well for you or the team.
- Thorn: These are negative things that are impacting your work or life. It may be something that didn’t go your way, causing stress, impediments to success, or something that you’re not proud of.
- Bud: These are areas that have a potential to bloom or improve if we nurture and put some focus onto them. They have the potential of becoming a flower.
How might you implement a Rose Retrospective? Let’s step through the preparation and steps through conducting a retrospective.
Prepare the spaceWhether a physical room or a virtual room, create a space to (e.g., white boards, etc.) to add Flower, Thorn, and Bud.
Determine what cohort of people will participate. It is best to invite those that were actually engaged in the topic (e.g., the team that did the work).
Conduct the sessionStart by explaining the process of the Rose Retrospective and the meaning of the flower, thorn, and bud. Advise them on what they will be reflecting on (the recent sprint, project, time period, etc.).
Begin with Flowers. Give everyone 5 minutes to brainstorm their flower(s). Everyone shares their flowers. This may include recent successes in delivery, relationships, and progress. You may use data as an input. The intent is boost morale and make people feel proud of their activities and progress. The result is to visualize as a bouquet of flowers on a rose bush.
Continue with Thorns. Give everyone 5 minutes to brainstorm their thorn(s). Everyone shares their thorns with the intent is to share challenges. The result is to visualize the thorns of a rose bush.
Finally, the group discusses the buds. Reviewing the Thorns, consider what can be improved and actions for improvement. Provide time to consider the root cause, brainstorm new ideas, and suggesting solutions. Also consider other ideas that may need a boost in areas that are ripe with infusing extra effort to turn the bud into a flower. Prioritize ideas and solutions and focus on the top 2 or 3 actions. The result is to visualize a group of buds that may blossom with some extra effort.
Work on the actions
Once the session is over, the next steps are to add the actions to your backlog of work, marking them as high priority. Then work on the actions to turn the buds into bouquets of flower.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
As the pandemic continues, is the social isolation and restrictions in movement causing a feeling of melancholy and unmotivated? Are you losing interest in posting selfies, attending web conferencing events, and streaming shows and movies? As the news gets worse, do you find yourself devouring negative news and getting sidetracked by social media, yet have a number of home projects to do?
“You're bored, listless, unmotivated, afraid, and uncertain. What you have may be feeling is 'acedia'. This occurs when you have spatial and social constrictions that a solitary life necessitates. Acedia is combination of listlessness, undirected anxiety, and inability to concentrate.”
With the next wave of Covid inflight, if this feels like something you are experiencing, it could be acedia. The initial novelty of adapting to the first wave with restricted lifestyle was fun or at least interesting in the initial wave as we adapted to this new way of living. However, in this second round, it is no longer novel and may be a bit vexing as we stare at our screens in dreariness. Those things that we did to pass time are no longer amusing or even interesting. Are you starting to have the feeling of acedia?
As leaders, it can happen to us and it can happen to our employees. What can we do? The first thing is call it by its name. Having a name to what you may be feeling connects it to something real. Once it is recognized as something real, you can more easily do something about this. What you may have is “acedia”. How that we recognize it by its name and that it is a real thing, we can try to put actions in place to minimize it. Here are some things we can do for ourselves.
Establish a routine. It’s not uncommon in this pandemic that we have let our schedules slide a bit. However, while this may be good for vacations, it has been proven that having a routine can be helpful in times of uncertainty. Providing a routine to our day can give us a sense of control, reduce stress levels, and improve our focus and productivity.
Find a new non-screen interest such as a hobby, sport, or outdoor activity. The advantage of this is these types of activities are absorbing and encourages you to take some time for yourself. Focusing in on an interest can relieve stress by keeping us engaged in something we enjoy.
Initiate an exercise regimen. As the pandemic can make it challenging to participate in a health club, setting up a home regimen with minimal equipment can be beneficial. This can include a walking, jogging, or cycling regimen. The benefits of regular exercise are that it can improve our mental health and mood, and boosts your energy level.
Finally, allow time to celebrate. This includes personal events like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and work-related events like releases into production, retrospectives, work anniversaries, and other employee’s personal events. The act of celebrating can relieve stress. Remember, acedia is often a result of being drawn to negative news. Taking the time to celebrate breaks the negative cycle and changes the focus to something more positive.
If you are feeling bored, listless, unmotivated, afraid and uncertain, what you might be experiencing is acedia. If you think you are, put a name to it so you recognize it as some real. More importantly, put actions in place to mitigate the effects. This may include establishing a routine, finding a new non-screen interest, initiating a new exercise regimen, and allowing time to celebrate.
Sunday, July 26, 2020
- Initiate and continually gauge the health of the team. This could be in the form of morning check-ins or online pulse surveys (e.g., 1-10 on how you are feeling). This helps you gauge when team health is a concern on not. Depending on what you learn, there may be continuous and impromptu things you can do.
- Periodically ask the team via brainstorming ideas from the team as to what they need to maintain team health. Soliciting ideas from them makes the team feel that you care.
- Have virtual yoga mornings. This can be initiated by either a professional yoga instructor or one of the team members that enjoys a leadership opportunity. Similarly, this could be a virtual walking morning.
- Provide flexibility in work hours. As spouses and children are within the remote office (aka, home), flexible hours help relieve stress from juggling family schedules
- Set boundaries on work schedule. As the house becomes the “office”, it can be harder to escape the office and ‘shut off’. Ensure there are work hour boundaries set so team members feel they have relief.
- Recommend employees connect with one other team member every day in a face-to-face manner via video conferencing. This helps team members feel connected to one another in a visual manner.
- Periodically apply a Wellness weekend. This is effectively a long weekend where team members have Friday off to give them time to unwind beyond the normal 2-day weekend.
- Send care packages to team members. These packages do not have to be extensive and should be focused on highlighting appreciation. This surprise also makes for a way to break the monotony of everyday life.
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Check in on people. Checking in on people throughout the session helps keep them engaged. Examples include “Gemma, what do you think about this?”, or “Trey, does this make sense?”, or “Rami, what would you add to the discussion?” Ensure you rotate who you check in with so everyone is engaged and you don’t pick on anyone more than others. This has an added benefit of getting people’s feedback on the direction of the session. The longer the session, the more frequently you should check-in.
Ask people to co-host or lead. Often times, a meeting is in several parts. Invite a few people to lead a section or discussion during the session. This could simply be asking them to read the slides (ensuring they are tuning in) or asking them to facilitate a discussion on one of the topics (or a combination).
Monday, May 25, 2020
Consider taking time to visualize your team via a team constellation. Take a moment to adapt the definitions of each tier. I suggest making it publicly available so that others understand those that work on and support the team. It can also help you solidify what it really means to be a team.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
- Station 1 is where multiple bags of bread was opened up.
- Station 2 is where scoops of egg salad are placed into pieces of bread.
- Station 3 is where the scoop of egg salad is spread across the bread and a top piece is added to form a sandwich.
- Station 4 is where the sandwich is cut.
- Station 5 is where the sandwiches are stacked into trays.
While it is an exercise in optimizing flow which gets my geeky side excited, overall it is really about feeding the underserved community during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m proud of my wife and family for having the motivation and charitable spirit of making sandwiches that helps feed the many hungry families.