Kevin Kelly, author of Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World, writes about scenius (a.k.a., "the communal form of genius").

Which made me think about skunk works in general and, inevitably, Agile teams and their open workspaces.

Agile Retrospectives

Group Mind

In the "Generating Insights" phase of a retrospective, the "Group Mind" activity provides a way for teams to discover where their thinking converges and quickly identify common concerns.

The retrospective leader (RL) helps the team form three or four small groups of team members--pairs or triads, depending on the size of the team. Each small group takes no more than eight to ten minutes to brainstorm all the issues (or ideas for action) facing the team and write each one on a separate sticky note. The retrospective leader challenges the sub-groups to go for quantity of issues over quality. Every...


Impact and Energy

So many teams complain about the "do nothing" retrospective. Team meetings can remain results-free for many reasons (possibly the topic of another post…and anyway, I’m sure Esther Derby must have written about it ;-) ). However, one way to stimulate team members to implement action plans is to follow the energy.


Kaizen Stories

Stig Efsen, Trifork Scrum coach, invented a new way to help teams move the continuous improvement ideas from retrospectives into real action. In an “Agile Retrospectives” workshop last January, he showed our workshop group how to use Planning Poker for a list of ideas for actions.



About a year ago, I wrote post on FRIM, a new activity for gathering data for the work of retrospectives.


Agile Camps

I’m sitting at the Portland Bar Camp, listening to my friend Tony Deis from TrackersNW. He’s tell me about how he ran a outdoor camp for high school students using Agile practices. Tony said, “We got to the campgrounds on Sunday after a long drive. It was raining. We had an Umiak to build and a rotation schedule of activities for the campers. Bn Monday, I felt miserable. We were missing the kids and staff expectations for the kind of freedom and accountability we want for our camps.”

Agile Retrospectives


The latest Agile Chronicles Newsletter email edition offered me the option of downloading the second Annual “State of Agile Development” survey. Seventeen hundred individuals responded to a boatload of questions from VersionOne. In response to the question, “Which of the following practices do you employ within your Agile methods? (check all that apply)”, thirty-nine percent checked “retrospectives.” 39%!


All Hands on Deck

Erik Petersen posted a note on his blog that referenced a website for, of all things, a bicycle touring group that needs to run effective meetings.


Planning for Action in Retrospectives

Bas Vodde posted an article on action planning in retrospectives . It’s a tough issue, and I agree with Bas’ take on it. Team members need to see clearly how the actions they choose will affect their work long term. Bas suggests each proposal for action links each near term action with the long term goal it will help the team achieve.

Agile Retrospectives

FRIM: Another Way to Gather Data

I continually look for new ways to gather data in iteration retrospectives. My goal is to find activities that encourage team members to think deeply about the story of their project while keeping an eye on the time budget. Timelines are a great tool for data gathering, yet they may take longer than many teams can afford in a 60-90 minute retrospective. The standard “what worked well/what shall we do differently” is short, but really takes the team directly into analysis, bypassing data gathering. Here’s an idea for a new activity I call FRIM (FRequency/IMpact).

In FRIM, the team writes...

Agile Retrospectives

Retrospective Questions

Today someone wrote with an inquiry, "What kinds of questions should one ask when doing a retrospective? What specific areas should a leader think about when drafting a retrospective, regardless of the rest of the format?"

I found this a difficult question to answer, yet I resisted writing back, "It depends." Though it does depend, on a number of factors, but most of all the goal. So, here's what I wrote back to him.

In Agile Retrospectives, Esther and I recommend setting a goal for each retrospective, then tailoring the activities and questions to that goal. Many teams have an...

Agile Retrospectives

The 20/80 End

On the Gemba Panta Rei blog post, Jon Miller says, “20% celebration, 80% reflection. In order to do kaizen right you have to celebrate your victories over waste. You need to make it fun.”

Agile Retrospectives