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appreciative retrospective by Mind Map: appreciative retrospective
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appreciative retrospective

appreciative inquiry

set the stage

state an affirmative goal for the session

Or any goal that sets up an expectation for positive outcomes.

examples, The goal for today’s retrospective is building on our best uses of engineering practices and methods., We’re going to seek out our highest quality working relationships and find ways to expand on them., In this session, we’ll discover where we added the most value during our last iteration and plan for increasing the value we add during the next iteration., During this retrospective, we’ll find ways to amplify our strengths in process and teamwork.

After stating the goal and giving an overview of the agenda for the retrospective, offer a quick round-robin question to each team member, “Which of our working agreements did you see in action during this iteration (or release)?” This question brings team members’ attention into the retrospective session and reminds the group of their working agreements—by focusing on the times when they followed them.

gather data

Team members ask and answer a series of three or four questions that focus awareness on individual and team strengths and successes.

examples, ”Tell us a story about a time this week when you felt particularly energized by our work.”, “What did you value most about the work we’ve done together?”, “In what ways did this iteration (release or project) make a unique contribution?” or “What metaphor describes this iteration (release or project) best?”, "What did you value most about your contributions this week?”, (No false modesty allowed. This isn’t bragging or boasting, it’s important data for the team.)

Keep track of these answers for later. The team will use the responses along with ideas from the next phase to help determine which actions they want to take.

This is a brainstorming exercise. Distribute post-its of 3 colours. On each coloured post-it, have everyone write the team’s successes, strengths and events during the past iteration. Use one colour for each. Write as many as possible. Stick these up on one section of the board.

generate insights

Follow the data gathering questions with a question that creates a vision

such as, Imagine we could time travel to the end of the next release. When we arrive there and converse with our future selves, we hear that it was the most productive, most satisfying effort we’ve ever worked on. What do you see and hear in that future time?”

Wait 2 or 3 minutes for team members to connect with this vision. Then ask: “What changes did we implement now that resulted in such productive and satisfying work in the future?”

Write down all the answers.

Look back over all of the answers the team gave in the last two phases. Pull out common ideas. Look for patterns, common threads, and compelling ideas, then consider why these hold significance for the team.

Brainstorm the future (10 minutes)

This is similar to the previous exercise but needs more creativity. Have the team time travel to the end of the next iteration. Imagine what their successes, strengths and events would be in the not so far future. What would they achieve if they keep doing the best they can? Write these on the same coloured post-its as the previous exercise and stick them up on another part of the board.

Affinity Mapping (15 minutes)

Get the team to the board. Group the different post-its. It is ok to mix up the post-its. Look for common groups and themes, pull these out. Group them into their own sections on the board and circle and label them.

Dot voting (5 minutes)

Have the team think about what groups/themes they want to sustain. Each member has two votes. Pick two groups with the most votes

decide what to do

Based on what they have identified as their future successes, strengths and positive events, ask the team what actions can they take to achieve them. These could be in the form of “do more of, keep doing” actions. Pick two to three actions but not more.

Based on the data and insights, discuss the implications of different possible actions

“Which ideas and actions build on our successes, meet the situational (or customer) needs, and tap our greatest energy?”

“What are we best positioned to try next?”

“What do we really want to try (or sustain)?”

Create a list of potential action steps.

Choose no more than three small actions the team can take during the next increment of work. Identify which team members want to lead the follow through effort for each action. Only volunteers with zeal for the action item need apply. No one gets “volunteered.” Ask team members to include the tasks in iteration or release planning and report on the outcomes at the next retrospective, or sooner.

Retrospective leaders can create various activities around affirmative questions by having team members record some key words from answers on sticky notes or index cards for easy sorting. Or record answers on flip charts or white boards. Use dot voting or consensus techniques for selecting final actions.

close

Reiterate the actions the team chose to undertake. Lead the “Offer Appreciations” activity or hold a full “Temperature Reading,” if you have time. Ask that team members write the thing or things they liked most about this retrospective, so the retrospective leader can incorporate that feedback and design even more satisfying, enjoyable retrospectives.

Voila! A retrospective held entirely with an appreciative inquiry approach.

Keep the lists you’ve created of patterns, common threads and compelling ideas. They will provide a rich source of future retrospective goal topics. Look for other sources of appreciative questions to hone in more specifically to those topics. Sources include:Appreciative Team Building by Whitney, et al, and Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Whitney, et al.

A Lightweight Appreciative Retrospection

Closing

When we came to an end, I thanked everyone for the nice experience, and asked for feedback in kind of an informal "Plus/Delta" (again an exercise from "Agile Retrospectives"). I just wish I had written down the suggestions I got. :(

Appreciations

I invited the team members to offer appreciations, in the form they already knew from a Temperature Reading we had done earlier that year: "[name], I appreciate you for ..." As always, things started slowly, but then we got quite some appreciations, which was nice.

Open Discussion

Now we put the already played cards in the middle of the group (most of us were actually sitting on the floor or on the sofa), and the players started to reveal the cards they hadn't played yet, saying a few words while doing so and answering questions when things were not clear. When all cards where laid open, a discussion started on what patterns were observed and how people felt about it. This part had a quite nice atmosphere, with everybody being involved and interested in listening to the views of the others. Facilitating this was a breeze. :) And I think it did a great job at getting mutual understanding on how we felt about the changes we did, and the future we hoped for. When the discussion slowed down, it was time for

Playing the Game

From earlier games of Like To Like, we already had quite a bunch of colored index cards with adjectives written on it. So for this time, I only had to select a couple of cards which I thought had at least a potentially positive connotation. (Normally, when not playing the appreciative version, you will want to have a balanced mix of positive and negative adjectives.)

Game Preparation

Everyone got six index cards and a big marker. Then, in succession, I asked them to write each two cards for the top things - we had already done before last month - we had changed in the last month - we could change in the next month to make it an even better month (For that last part, I actually asked them to imagine that we were at the end of the next month, that it had been an even better month, and to write down the top two things we had changed for that to happen. I'm feared by my team for this kind of question... ;)

Setting the Stage

After presenting the goal and the agenda, I asked everyone to imagine that he or she would give a personal party to celebrate the accomplishments of the month. In round robin fashion, they should state in one or two words what theme or motto the party would have. Although our group is always a little bit shy about these kinds of exercises, I think it did a good job on getting everyone involved and setting the mood for an appreciative session.