Many people complain about a lack of team engagement in retrospectives. The facilitator’s role in the ceremony is to guide the participants to reach the desired results – to help them create, to understand them, to accept them. Therefore, it’s also the facilitator’s duty to be creative. Nowadays, the “Positive Points,” “Negative Points” and “Improvements” model fails to motivate even the Scrum Master. This means that it’s up to us to create new ways to do retrospectives. Based on this principle, we came up with contextualized dynamics. In this post, I’ll introduce the “Feelings and Paths” Retrospective.
“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need…” – Agile Manifesto
Lula and I were together on a team that went through a lot of different experiences in a short period of time. I realized that there were several feelings in the air, and I thought it was important for people to think about the team and how they were relating to and dealing with one another’s feelings.
“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” – Agile Manifesto.
The first step is to ask all participants to write down their feelings about this period on sticky notes – one note per feeling. As the notes are stuck on the board, the facilitators group similar feelings on the upper part.
Visual facilitation is an important step in promoting participant engagement. Simple drawings, such as circles around groups of sticky notes or even an icon representing the word “feelings,” are subtle tools that provide good motivation.
In the next step, we draw the team members on the bottom part of the board. Some poorly drawn stick figures will guarantee a good laugh. Connecting the team drawing and the groups of feelings, we draw paths and ask pairs or trios of participants to write down on smaller sticky notes which actions or events led to those feelings. The results are usually interesting. Events that were significant for everyone are noted alongside isolated actions that personally impacted one or two team members, but which few others were aware of.
Then we start chatting, reflecting as a group on which of these actions/events were the most important ones and outlining possible action plans.
During the retrospective, inspection and adaptation are the keywords for successful facilitation.
“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” – Agile Manifesto
People often feel energized at the end of this activity, where several reality checks can occur. Desired behaviors are strengthened, while undesired ones are discouraged. It’s a good activity for understanding how to use feelings to achieve better results as a team.