On Tuesday last week, I attended Rachel Davies’ course on Retrospectives. My overall impression of the course was good, and I came back with lots of new ideas to try. I’d definitely recommend it.
Along with the practical learnings, the key takeaway for me was that it’s not as easy as you think to facilitate a retrospective. You have to get the true picture from different perspectives and guide a conversation towards a meaningful end – while staying neutral (never easy) This is why activities are important, to uncover the things that won’t ever get mentioned in conversation.
- Lots of relevant information and references for further reading.
- Seeing the timeline activity in action – using coloured post-its for good / bad / neutral makes it work a lot better than all one colour. Rachel also takes it one step further and uses funky shaped neon post-its for the team to highlight areas of fun and stress. Although this seemed like overkill at first, it does illustrate trends.
- Emotional timeline – it was great to actually see this work, again it’s something I hadn’t used and wasn’t sure on, but it really did show up the patterns well, even in the example one we used.
- Watching other people, as always, makes me see things that I’m doing that don’t work so well – for example, how important it is to write down what people are saying and not what I think they are.
Not so great:
- Powerpoint overkill, especially at the beginning – I found it a bit difficult to stay tuned for the first part of the session, and would probably have preferred handouts (paper or electronic).
- Difficult to really demonstrate retrospective activities with a group of people who’ve only just met – more simulated situations or role-plays might have been better.
Before I went, one day seemed like enough to become an expert on retrospectives. As always, the more you know … the more you realise there is to know!