wall of sticky notes

Improve your team’s awareness

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The “Three Little Pigs” is a retrospective where the group will focus and reflect on the current state of a process or a project when they are in a stabilization phase.

We achieve this reflection by translating the “Three Little Pigs” fable into our corporate world where we look at what was done and compare it to the stability and strength of the houses.

Get everything ready

You’ll present the group three separate columns, represented by the houses, where they can add the outcome of their reflection in the form of multiple post-it notes for each column.

The translation of meaning for the houses is done as follows:

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

You should request for each member to keep to himself, reflect on the topic at hand and write as many post-its as possible to allow for a broader discussion area.

The group should have approximately 10 minutes to populate the whiteboard.

A personal preference of mine requires each member to, in a brief sentence, explain the meaning and reasoning of their post-it, and in case the topic has already been raised discard it or place it on top of the post-it with the similar agenda.

This small grooming will make the next step much easier and faster.

Promote an healthy environment for discussion

Once every post-it is added to the board, assign voting power by allowing each participant to choose up to 4 topics for discussion.

Note that you should review the number of votes since they depend on the number of post-its on the board.

Sort the topics by the highest amount of votes and, considering the time left in the meeting, choose accordingly. For me a nice rule of thumb is 10/15 minutes per topic. What follows is a discussion of those topics guarded by a time-box kept by the organizer.

Create actionable items

As always if the time to discuss a particular topic runs out, you should alert the group and question if they want to pursue the discussion of that topic or if they should postpone the discussion and move topics.

It’s important to remind that the meeting’s length is fixed so, discussing one issue further will prevent the group from discussing others.

Here is an example of what the final board should look like:

The Three Little Pigs Retrospective on a whiteboard
The Three Little Pigs Retrospective

Note that the outcome of a retrospective like this should be a clear analysis of the current state of the project/process and above all, actions with a very clear assignee and scope of work.

This is the most important so the group can actually pursue the items raised during the discussion and improve the discussed project or process.

Don’t forget to share the data with the group at the end of the retrospective.

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

Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of the article!

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 Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

See you next time! ✌️💪

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