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.