Agile PM Process Grid–6.10 Retrospectives (4)

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 last of four that cover 6.10 Retrospectives.   The first post covered the general features of retrospective meetings.    The second post covered the specific sections that are recommended for Retrospective meetings.   The third post covered some suggested exercises for making the Retrospective meeting less of a meeting and more of an event to be experienced by the team.   And this final post covers some general suggestions for the facilitator of a Retrospective meeting.

  1. The facilitator must focus on the process–given the elements of the retrospective as spelled out in the second post of four on the subject, the facilitator may have to cut people off, summarize what they have said, and move on, without it causing hard feelings to the person being interrupted.
  2. If the facilitator has some information that has not been supplied to the team, then the facilitator needs to tell the team that he (or she) is stepping out of the facilitator role, and then after giving the information, to state he (or she) is stepping back into the role.   Why?   A facilitator is one who monitors the conversation but does not participate in it.
  3. Provide a map of the retrospective meeting at the beginning and let people know the purpose of the activities.   This is done without “spoilers” in terms of what outcomes those activities may uncover.
  4. The best way for a facilitator to be able to focus on the activities is to have a script that can be practiced beforehand, but modified after the retrospective if necessary.
  5. Although the team will be engaging in conversation, the facilitator will need to be on tap to coach and guide the activities IF NECESSARY.
  6. Use Emotional Intelligence (EI) to manage emotions of others if they get out of hand during an activity without an atmosphere or judgement, rather one of observation.
  7. Keep the meeting on time–one of the analog methods most favored by the author is a 90-minute sand timer, which serves as a neutral, visual reminder.    Back it up, of course, by a more precise clock or stopwatch for your own use as a facilitator.
  8. Help the group good decisions, which comes from having the appropriate information, giving time for the discussion of alternatives, and letting the team know the guidelines for what a “good” decision will look like.   Give them that, and trust that they will steer themselves in the right direction!
  9. Understand the individual personalities and the group dynamics in order to allow ALL team members to give their opinions.    So, when asking for opinions, ALWAYS ask the introverts first, NEVER the extroverts first!
  10. Don’t underestimate the power of visual aids.   Someone who has information available on flip charts can guide given a single picture what may take dozens or even hundreds of words to explain!

I hope these guidelines are useful.   I have started to use them for my meetings and they are very, very effective.

The following three posts cover the final process out of the 87 processes that John Stenbeck has created in the Agile PM Process Grid:   7.7 Process Tailoring!




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