Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The retrospective prime directive

Today, a good friend of mine asked me “for that sentence you usually read at the beginning of a retrospective”.

He was talking about the retrospective prime directive:

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand. --Norm Kerth, Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews

I always found useful to read it loud at the beginning of a retrospective. In fact, I never regret having read it. It is quite the opposite. I could recall the few times I regret not calling it loud: the vibe was a little off.

Let’s participate on this ceremony –the retrospective—with this common belief. It is more than considering people did their best. It is a belief! I don’t ask people to hold this belief forever (people do make judgments about skills, abilities and situations). I do ask people to hold this belief during the retrospective time.

Here is the premise of the retrospective premise (prime directive):

During this retrospective, only for the next X minutes, let’s adhere to this common group belief, and find out where it will take us... Regardless of what we discover...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Capacity: Help with Excel

For every Sprint Planning the capacity, the hours available for the team is an important ingredient. Usually, this is rather straight forward and easy to do. At my current project we have two teams. Each team is cross-functional, i.e. being able to deliver a piece of done software. However, in this case, the skills are very different, so that the overall number of available hours can be deceptive as there might be 120 h of development tasks and only 80 h available. We actually run into this problem when we got additional business analysts. The overall capacity went up so that we could commit to more user stories. As a result, we had far too much programming work and not enough analysis work.

Now, we break the capacity down per skills we need in our teams. Once Sprint Planning Two is over, we add up the hours per skill and see if we are still in the range. If yes - great! Otherwise the Dev Team and Product Owner self-organize and figure out a way to handle it.

Long story short - here is the link to the Excel sheet. It is not fancy but does a great job for the current project.


Friday, September 16, 2011

GOSH event photos

GOSH – Get Old Stay Hot

Last night I had the honor of facilitating the first GOSH (Get Old Stay Hot) event.

The event was opened for the Porto Alegre local IT community. It had the focus on career development (therefore the catchy acronym). It took place at ThoughtWorks Brazil office.

As I promised in the event yesterday, here I will share the photos, and the result of the ROI-feedback exercise.

This was the event's agenda:

A few photos from the event:

Ice breaker: 1,2, ping, 4, pong…

Items for voting (Dot-mocracy) on the open space

Top 3 items for discussion (fishbowl-roundtable style)

The fishbowl round table

ROI-Feedback exercise results

Facilitation exercise: feedback and ROI

Facilitation exercise: feedback and ROI (Return on Investment)

I have been using this facilitation exercise for a while. Therefore I am describing it in this blog entry. This is a great exercise for closing a retrospective, a long meeting, or an event).

Basically I ask the participants to write down in a post-it feedback about the retrospective/meeting/event. Then, I ask them to place the post-it on the ROI radar.
The ROI radar have a line going from very little ROI :( -- to very high ROI :) ++. The ROI question was:
For this last hour that you have spent here in this retrospective/meeting/event, how do you measure the return on your investment (of your time)? I am supper happy; this was really worthy my time: goes on top; the opposite goes on the bottom.

Below is the result from the last two times I run this exercise.

facilitation exercise: The round table fishbowl for group discussion

I have used this facilitation exercise in a few instances. Therefore I will describe it in this blog entry.

This exercise is great for keeping a focused conversation, while having a large group of people. At any time, only a few people have a conversation (the fish in the fishbowl). The remaining people are listeners (the ones watching the fishbowl). The caveat is that the listeners can join the discussion at any moment.

Here is how I ran it last time:

The round table had 4 chairs. One chair was kept empty, available for whoever wanted to join the conversation. When someone joined the table, someone else on the table (typically the one either sitting longer or less involved on the current conversation) would leave the table. The other participants were standing or sitting near the table. This is the roundtable-fishbowl style.