Archives: September 26, 2014

‘Eye Of The Tiger’–Using Metaphors For Retrospectives

I have been at the Scrum Gathering Berlin over the last few days and I had a really good time. Not just is it a great place to learn and float new ideas, but it’s also an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. If you have not had the opportunity to attend a Scrum Gathering on your journey to date, I really recommend it. 

My good friend Mark Summers and I were selected to host one of the sessions. Retrospectives are a passion for both Mark and I in terms of running creative ones and using the best facilitation techniques to really get the group flowing and the learning’s aired.

So we ran a session called ‘Building Metaphors for Retrospectives’

The session was an opportunity to show off some of the creativity from Mark and I, but also to get the audience to create their own. Once we created a new metaphor, we got the audience to run a retrospective on retrospectives to have an opportunity to share best practice, learning’s, tools and techniques.

The session was positively received and we got some great instant feedback.  A few of these you would have seen from some of my earlier blogs, but always worth sharing again to get your inspiration juices flowing.

1) The Boat Retrospective

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2) The ‘Top Gun’ Retrospective. Based on my love of 80’s films and Tom Cruise (At the time!)

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3) Mountaineering Retrospective – Created at the request of one of my clients. I now give them sometimes a choice and I will create based on the teams interests.

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4) The ‘Rocky 4’ Retrospective. This is my latest one and has been very popular with my clients. I always look for films with motivational sound tracks as I love to play the music to the teams. I find that music drives them and we have fun.

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5) ‘Nothings going to stop us now’ Retrospective. As a challenge on the day we proved that you could even use music songs for a basis. We challenged Benjamin Cooke to create one around Marks favourite song. Considering he spent 15 minutes on it, we had so much innovation and ideas.  We made him listen to the song at least ten times while creating it and Mark was doing his dad dancing around the room Smile

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So now we have some of the Scrum Berlin groups output. Thank you to everyone at the gathering who helped to produce these.

1) Up – I love this idea and won the prize for the best metaphor. A great film and so many items you can relate to a team.  Eliminating waste by releasing the balloons and not forgetting the cone of shame Smile

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2) Driving – Simple yet effective. I quite often one similar to this with Kanban teams.

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3) The Zoo – The spidery looking thing is a peacock.  I thought this was great because it made the team laugh and got us talking as a group. You don’t have to be a great artist and having a giggle can actually break the ice!

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4) Travel – Watch out for those Sharks

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So as promised some really great ideas out there.

Final Thoughts

I recognise that metaphors are not for everyone and some teams respond to them better than others, but as ScrumMasters we have a duty to continually drive improvement. Nothing worse than a scrummie running the same retro over and over again. The retrospective is a key meeting and there for a purpose and so we need to be creative in keeping it fresh and bringing out the important points.

So I challenge to you to think about the quality of your retrospectives and how you could facilitate them better.

A few other photos for your pleasure

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Top of the Mountain to ya!

Been on extended Easter holiday over the last week and being back at work was a shock to the system. I had an awesome week off though, and got to do lots of little jobs at home that needed doing (4 hours of ironing!). There was also the more exciting stuff such as my weekend away to London, the zoo and talking my niece and nephew out. If anyone knows me well they will know my passion for crazy golf and so that was a particular highlight Smile

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I have been keeping myself busy at work with my clients and of course organising the first ever European Scrum Coaching Retreat with a few of my good friends. I am so excited about being involved in this and we have only a few places remaining.  By the time you read this it will be SOLD OUT!

Got a few lean Kanban events coming up as well such as the BCS Agile day and the Kanban Leadership retreat. Once again David Anderson and his team has not let me down by picking a glorious  location. I am very much looking forward to spending time with my fellow Kanban peers and seeing what innovative concepts they have to share.

I shall be sitting here with a Pina Colada at some point Smile

So today I have another new retrospective theme for you! Though Top gun is still awesome….

I am obviously so comfortable with running retros now that I have started giving teams a choice of a theme and I will go away and create one based around it. You just know I am going to get a tough one sooner or later!  This weeks theme was mountaineering.

Here is the overall view – Printed naturally as my art isn’t that good!

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Some of the lower level questions I want to pose.

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Final Thoughts

Keeping retrospectives fresh is so important because they are such valuable opportunities to gather how everything is going and really make a difference with a team to put improvements in. 

I am keen to hear about any retrospectives that you have created yourself. Get in touch.

Over and out.


Top Gun!

First blog of the New Year!

I had a good Christmas and New Year. Who wouldn’t with three weeks off work and a trip the New York included within that Smile

New York was awesome!! My friend Sarah and I went for 5 days and pretty much immersed ourselves into being total tourists and ladies of leisure, who shopped and wined and dined. 

I have never known weather like it it, minus 16 wind chill and I couldn’t bear to have any flesh on display.

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We didn’t let it spoil our trip though and managed to do everything we wanted. We both agreed that the Circle line boat trip was the high light, because we saw so many of the sights and got classic views of the iconic skyline. The picture above shows the Hudson river  full of ice and it physically moved like lava.

We also managed a cheeky ride around central park in a bright pink horse and carriage.

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Alas though to pay for these pleasures I must work (until my millionaire comes along Smile )

I am meeting a new team next week and I have been asked to run a retro for for them.  Normally I can just pull one of these out of my tool box, but this team has been together a while and their ScrumMaster already seems to have been quite creative with them. Now this left me in a quandary as I don’t want to do just a run of the mill one! There are so many great websites out there and I got lots of inspiration but I just wanted something different, fun and original.

As I sat ‘hard at work’ on the sofa looking for a movie to watch, inspiration hit me. Why not use a movie to form the basis of my retro.

Hmmm, now what is a really cheesy film that is legendary?

Enter ‘Top Gun’

“ I feel the need, the need for speed!!”

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Key questions I am asking:

  • Top Gun Logo – What does it mean to be ‘Top Gun’?
  • F14A Tomcat – Do we have the right gear?
  • Radar – What challenges are there coming up?
  • USS Enterprise – What are we stable in?
  • Explosion – What went wrong?
  • Migs – What are the things dragging us down?
  • Goose & Ice – How are we as a team?

Ultimately you can pick any questions you want to drive from the team, but we are looking for a good mix of positive and areas of opportunity.   I am with this team for two days and so I am looking to drive the opportunities where I can help them quite quickly.

Now, we all know that I am a little bit geeky and so for extra effect I have downloaded the soundtrack to play in the back ground. The first track is my 5 minute time box!

I am now thinking what other films can I start incorporating into a retrospective? I need to find that predominantly female team and bust out one on the classic ‘Dirty Dancing’. Not sure my usual demographic would appreciate that one!

So todays message is go out there and be creative, bring some fun into the team whilst harvesting some real data to help teams go from good to great.

I will let you know how my retro went, even if they hate it, I had fun creating it. If you want my images to print  I am happy to send across and so you only have to ask.

PS: If you see me, ask me how I embarrassed my friend by suggesting a new flow based system going through security in London Heathrow Smile  In fairness he did adopt it…