I planned to write individual posts about new and upcoming workshops, but the rate at which we get invited and accepted to conferences this fall outstrips my ability to post new entries I have to post now, before the conferences themselves are over… I hope you’ll join us for at least one of these. We’ll be doing some hard-core programming workshops as well as more enterprise and facilitation oriented sessions this fall.
Tag Archive for 'retrospectives'
Retrospective Hero is a new simulation / role playing workshop I’m developing with Nicole Belilos of Task24. The goal is to let facilitators experience several situations that can happen in real life, and let them experiment with facilitation techniques to make the most of a situation. This is a report of the trial run we held at Agile Open Holland 2009, with an explanation on how the workshop works.
This was the only ‘red’ card in the retrospective we held today at the end of another eXperience Agile
Further there was one looking ahead (‘Drink & book’ -meaning looking forward to drinks in the bar and receiving the book at the end of the course).
Personally I also loved ‘no more questions’ (I guess there will be more after a night of sleep). One thing we experimented with was shortening the iterations in Day 3′s exercises, so we would have time for a bit of questions and answers ‘open space’ style (or XP style – questions on post-its prioritized by the participants).
We had quite a number of ‘puzzles’ on Wednesday and Thursday, mainly open questions… And some red cards. Most related to traffic jams. Other cards we resolved quickly (not enough overview on the agend for the course – easily done with an extra flipchart, another one was that we had two pairs working off the same repository by accident, we still have some manual steps in installing workspaces that we do not yet know how to automate well due to the environment we are using. ).
Seeing the green cards, and the happy, exhausted faces, there probably was quite a bit of accelerated learning going on – and that is not a coincidence.
I ‘m especially pleased to see green cards where we used to have red and yellow – dilligent work, and keep on trying to improve a few things each and every course. I don’t know what we’re going to change in the next one (we have some ideas around acceptance testing and have been experimenting), but I’m sure we are going to change some things. We, the ‘instructors’ are also part of the learning community, and I strongly believe our own learnings accelerates that of the other participants.
Therefore we hold retrospectives after every course day. Sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes the next day. Where it makes sense we ‘stop the production line’ and fix problems immediately, e.g. answer questions and gather questions for further discussion in a separate block or over lunch. In other courses this also helped us streamline exercises, the build environment etc.
As you might see in the green and yellow cards, much fun (green cards) and puzzles (yellow cards) come from the open source tools and games generously donated to the world. This includes the xp game, ruby, rspec, test/unit (included in ruby), firewatir, and of course techniques like XP, Refactoring and TDD that you can (amongst many sources) still read about on the C2 wiki and the XP mailinglist. And of course retrospectives.
I hope these happy colourful photos inspire you to experiment with retrospectives. A word of warning… besides focusing on what you can do better, don’t forget to celebrate the green cards (I have that tendency – still a bit of a perfectionist) and relax before the next round of improvments. Have a nice weekend
I found this retrospective mug on the website of the German firm it-agile. As the accompanying text says (rough translation):
“the retrospectives mug encourages you to have a mini retrospective during the coffee- or tea-break. The mug poses those nasty little questions we prefer to avoid during our daily work, over and over again:
- Why am I stuck?
- How does it work? Why?
- Does the work I’m doing now bring the project forward?
- Should I inform someone about problems…?”
I was at Marc’s yesterday, brainstorming some more topics for workshops. One thing that came up, about which we did not have a clue on what a workshop about the topic would look like, was Learning to see things as they are, rather than how they should be. This capacity enables one to see the future(s) more clearly, and have an open dialogue within a group about the future. If you don’t know where you are, how do you know where you’re going to?
A number of books and techniques I’ve been studying over the past few months have the theme of learning to see. Value stream mapping and causal loop diagrams are two such techniques. Peter Schwartz writes in his book The art of the long view about discussing multiple futures, rather than just the companies’ official future. The book Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future discusses seeing things as they are as well.
While writing, I realize a workshop on Perspectives Nynke Fokma created would be about learning to see as well. Time to start working on that one.
Perhaps seeing things as they are is impossible, since seeing is done by perceiving. Nevertheless, striving to collectively learn too see, enables more robust and diverse forecasting.
Steve Denning concludes Use narrative as well as analysis with:
What hampers the creation of such new narratives is of course the corporate culture, which, as we saw in chapter 7 on Taming the Grapevine, holds the existing corporate story in place with an iron grip. The story of what the business is and how it works is not something that has to be argued for, but rather life as it is lived there, a matter-of-fact down-to-earth common sense apprehension of the obvious realities of the organization, which any wide-awake person would grasp if he would just open his eyes.