Card Pass

Just because your team members feel shy about expressing (or receiving) appreciations in public, doesn’t mean you should stop doing them. Tami Flowers told me about her solution to making sure team members know what they’ve done that helps their co-workers and to encourage them to keep doing those things. She called it “Card Pass with Appreciations.”

Here’s how it goes:

Arrange chairs so that team members sit in a circle of chairs or around a table. Make sure that every person has a pen. Pass out large index cards, one per team member, and ask each person to write...


Interpersonal Root Causes

I was at a party much too late last night (after the Agile2008 banquet), and it's good I was there. Just as I was getting ready to leave, two people walked over to me and told me a story about their retrospectives.

One of them thanked me for the book and said that it had helped in their retrospectives. Then he told me that the activities in the book had inspired him to create activities on his own. I asked if he would share an example with me.

He described how interpersonal conflicts and friction had plagued his team....



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