Agile PM Process Grid-6.10 Retrospectives (3)

In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, he creates an “agile project management process grid” which describes 87 processes used in agile project management.   These processes are divided into five process groups (Initiate, Plan, Iterate, Control, and Close), which are analogous to the five process groups in traditional project management, and seven knowledge areas which can be mapped, more or less, onto the ten knowledge areas in traditional project management.

The previous posts have covered the “Initiate”, “Plan”, “Iterate”, and “Control” process group of an agile project.   Now I am focusing on the “Close” process group.   I first want to define what I mean by that term of “process group”.   Why do I use this instead of the word “phase”?    Phase implies a sequence that goes more or less from one set of processes to another.   In reality, after the initiate and plan process groups, an agile project actually shuttles back and forth between the “iterate” and “control” process groups.   However, although a traditional or waterfall project always ends with the “Close” process group,  the “close” control group in agile also refers to those activities which are done at the close of an iteration and not just of the product itself–such as the process 6.10 Retrospectives which is covered in this blog post.

Today’s post is the third of several that cover 6.10 Retrospectives.   The first post covers the general features of retrospective meetings.    The second post covers the specific sections that are recommended for Retrospective meetings.   This post covers some suggested exercises for making the Retrospective meeting less of a meeting and more of an event to be experienced by the team.

1. Set the stage (5%)

  • ESVP exercise–ask each team member to identify his or her attitude toward the retrospective as an Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer, or Prisoner.

2. Gather data (30-50%)

  • Triple Nickels–give everyone a sheet of paper divided into 3 columns and divide the team into 3-person groups.   For five minutes, have each person individually write down whatever ideas or reflections they have from the iteration in column 1.   Pass the paper to the next person in the group and have each person write in column 2 ideas that are extensions, expansions, or explorations of the ideas already written in column 1.   Repeat for column 3.   The paper is returned to the original writer who uses it to suggest data points to the group.

3. Generate insights (20-30%)

  • Five Whys–have team members listed issues.   Pair up team members who will take roles as Asker or Responder.    Asker will ask “Why?” to Responder with regard to the issue, and keep asking “Why?” for a total of 5 times, while Responder digs deeper and keeps giving responses which drill deeper and deeper into the issues.  Information from Responders becomes input for the next phase of the Retrospective, “Decide what to do”.

4. Decide what to do (15-20%)

  • Voting with Dots–have team generate a list of possible alternatives for what to do based on the information gathered in phase 2 and insights generated in phase 3.    A limited amount of dots are given to each person and each person has a chance to give a certain amount of dots based on their preference.   Alternatives are narrowed down to a short list, and these are discussed in order to make a final decision on what to do.

5.  Close the retrospective (10%)

  • EQ–It is important to use ritual as a way of creating an emotional closure to the retrospective.   John Stenbeck recommends that each scrum master planning on running a retrospective study Emotional Intelligence in order to learn how to influence the emotions of others without being seen as someone who is trying to control the emotions of others.

6.  Shuffle time (10-15%)

  • Hourglass–Use a visual reminder such as an hourglass (real or virtual) to represent the flow of time–this will help remind people that time is a precious resource not to wasted, since each minute of a retrospective that is wasted is multiplied by the number of people in the team whose lives are all one minute shorter with no value added!

The next and final post on Retrospectives will be about general tips for those leading the Retrospective.



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