team coming out of the water after effort

3 retrospectives that make you a better leader

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Retrospectives are one of the best tools in a leader’s tool belt as it allows them to assess how a project, process, sprint, or overall mood is going. There are a lot of possible activities to do with the group and here I share three that I find the key to achieving the goals we, as leaders, assign to ourselves.

The preparation

Ensure that you reach the room (physical or remote) beforehand and prepare everything for when the group arrives you can devote your full attention on the activity.

Ensure everyone has the necessary material, from post-its and pens to the software necessary to collaboratively participate in the remote activity.

Finally explain carefully the exercise and exactly what is intended from every group member.

Before you request the group to focus on their post-its, list the actions from the previous retrospective and show what has been tackled and what still needs attention.

Three Little Pigs

Reflecting over the state of a project or a process, is a key step to achieve the results you’re looking for and increase of maturity level of the group. A good way to reach this goal is to perform a retrospective like the “Three Little Pigs”.

In this type of retrospective the group will be presented with three columns where they are meant to place post it notes:

  • House of Straw – What is hanging by a thread and could cause the demise of our goal?
  • House of Wood – What can be improved even though the results are being reached?
  • House of Bricks – What are the things that we’re extremely proud of and are exactly how they should be?
The Three Little Pigs retrospective

Note that the outcome should be a perfect separation of priority/importance of tasks to ensure that the goal is reached and that the threats that could prevent us from getting to that point are dealt with.

The Three L’s

Focusing on a recurring timeline like a sprint, this retrospective allows the group to share their interpretation of that time, sharing key information that, handled correctly, will strengthen the group and improve the satisfaction of the following iterations.

The group will be presented with three sections to fill with post-its of the following feelings:

  • Liked: Something that they liked during the sprint.
  • Lacked: What did dislike about the sprint or feel could be improved
  • Learned: Something that they learned during the sprint that they didn’t know before it started
The Three L’s retrospective

It will be essential to discuss the right items but focus heavily on the learned section as it’s key within this retrospective since it will help you understand the overall happiness of the team.

The racing car

When going through a few cycles of retrospectives you’ll see this one, or small variations, a few times. The reason for this, is that this exercise is great to understand how the group has reached the current location and how they can reach their goal.

This activity is harder to prepare but once its achieved the team will be presented with the following sections to fill with information:

Related to reaching the current state

  • Racing Car – What has helped the group?
  • Parachute – What’s been slowing down the group?

Focusing on the future

  • Rock Pit – What are the unknowns/dangers ahead that could prevent the group from reaching the goal?
  • Bridge – What actions could the group perform to overcome the dangers of the Rock Pit?
The Racing Car retrospective

This exercise will be essential to understand and help the team overcome the coming obstacles, possibly not having to face them at all with due preparation.

The discussion

Usually we like to ask for everyone to explain their post-its with a brief sentence and grouping multiple ones that address the same situation to make it easier to analyse.

Afterwards we ask every member to vote with a dot in the topic they want to discuss. Usually we give four dots to each person if there are a lot of post-its or two if they are just a few.

Once chosen the topics to address you time box the discussion and ensure that you have action items to do before the next retrospective.

Check out my video on these retrospectives on YouTube to know a bit more about the topic.

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Be sure to stick around and check some other posts on retrospectives, agile, productivity or leadership I have on the blog.

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Title photo by Pixabay from Pexels

See you next time! ✌️💪

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