Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heartbeat Retrospectives to Amplify Team Effectiveness

At Qcon London 2007, Boris Gloger described a 6 step process for performing retrospectives:

1. Security – Do not do a retrospective in a stressful environment. Make sure that no one is to blame. Regardless of what we discover, we understand and believe that everyone did the best job they could given they knew at the time, their skills, abilities and resources and the situation at hand.

2. Collect facts - Have a timeline with post-its about experiences of important events. Have the team members tell a short story of every event that is important from their point of view. Concentrate on facts and not emotions.

3. What went well? – Again, post what went well.

4. What could be improved? – Post what could be improved. Environment, skills, resources, hardware. Gather new ideas.

5. Who is in control? – All the ideas are coming from the team. Who is in control of improving what is discussed. Is it the team or the organization?

6. Prioritize – The goal is to improve the next iteration immediately. Have a team backlog that includes things the team must work on besides the product backlog (training, resources, etc.) Have an impediment backlog that includes organizational issues that impedes the team Prioritize and sort them then and add stories to the next sprint.

The retrospective should take between 10 to 90 minutes. It should not be held in the team room, but instead in a dedicated and neutral room that provides a secure environment. Attendees should include the entire team and whomever else the team would like to include.

This presentation is available on InfoQ at