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Stock Exchange retro

(Anders dan de rest van de website content zijn de retrospectives in het Engels, omdat ze ook gepubliceerd zijn als Pulse op LinkedIn)

Predict the Agility of your future etappe or sprints

‘Show me how you were and I will tell you how you will be’. A simple but effective way to predict ones behaviour is to look at past behaviour. We humans tend to stick to the plan, even when this is counter-productive. Behavioural scientist Daniel Kahneman calls this the ‘commitment and consistency bias’. And, as we know, biases are are persistent, especially if we, due to stress, fall back on our basic behavior.

And what applies to individuals, is no different for teams. The way a team will perform in the near future can easily be predicted by looking at its past behaviour. Retrospectives in scrum tend to focus on the past. ‘How did we perform in the last sprint and what can we do to improve?’ There’s nothing wrong with this but it can be helpful – and good for alternation – to look at the future instead. This is why I come up with this retrospective, that I call the ‘stock exchange retro’.

Note that it can both be used for reflecting on past and future sprints as on – as i did with my team – past and futures etappes (a set of sprints, also called release planning).

Make it relevant 

Some of my team member (and myself) are into crypto currencies. We discuss the current value of digital coins and predict what the future will bring. To align the retrospective with my teams interests, I use the stock price analogy to predict the teams future behaviour.

The idea

In short, in this retrospective the team will predict the exchange course of four major ‘crypto coins’ that are derived from the four Agile values from the Agile Manifesto*. In my example, there are four new Crypto currencies that are called:

  • IAI (individuals and interaction)
  • Wopr (working product)
  • CuCo (customer collaboration)
  • RTC (responding to change)

Needed

  • The whole scrum team (thus including PO en SM)**
  • A large whiteboard.
  • Markers in 3 different colours.
  • Post-its in 3 different colours (preferably the same colours as the markers).

Preparation

  • On a whiteboard draw 4 large squares, one for each crypto currency.
  • On the x-axis (of all 4 squares) write the time (t). Devide it into the proper portions. I use a division in the horizontal middle between the last etappe and the future etappe of 6 two-week sprints.
  • On the y-axis put the exchange value. Write 1 euro in the vertical middle and devide the axis by halves (0,5 / 1 / 1,5 / 2).
  • From the middle of the y-axis draw a straight horizontal line (representing the benchmark based on the past etappe/sprint) that stops at the end of the first etappe/sprint.

Gameplay (10 min)

  • Explain the retrospective and the 4 currencies.
  • Recap the Agile manifesto and it’s four values (X over Y)
  • Divide the group into 3 smaller teams and give all teams one coloured marker.
  • Ask the teams to draw the expected worth of the 4 crypto currencies based on results from the past.
  • Continuing the horizontal lines indicates no changes will occur. A steep climb shows bulky progress whereas a plumbing drop holds a dramatic decline.

Presentation (5 min)

  • Let the teams, one by one, present their prediction for all four currencies. The form could be: based on our experience, in the next etappe there will be a stand still/growth/decline of the Agile value ‘Individuals and interactions over processes and tools’.
  • If predictions differ, just like with planning poker, teams discuss their point of view and try to obtain consensus on the predicted course.

Improvement (5 min)

  • Give all teammembers a set of coloured post-its.
  • The three teams individually think of decisions and actions that need to be taken to raise the exchange price of each curreny.
  • Ideas are written on a post-it and placed in the right square.
  • It’s handy to use an upward arrow for things we already do and should do more, and a downward arrow for things we should no longer do.
  • Make sure the team members do not filter ideas yet, but put as much ideas on the board as they can think of.

Discussion (10 min)

  • Now discuss all ideas plenary, one square (Agile Value) at a time.
  • Let the whole group/team select the two best ideas in each square. You might use dotvoting for this, if needed.
  • Put the eight selected post-its on a clean piece of the white board and briefly discuss each item untill all team members understand it’s content.
  • In collaboration with team and PO, turn the items into stories for the backlog.
  • Add potential impediments to the impediments board (if you have one).

Conclusion

As always, this retrospective is first of all about awareness. In this case there is a key insight: the fact that we have always done it this way, does not mean we should continu to do so. The result of this retrospective consists also of concrete actions that can be taken to enhance the teams agility.

Scrum you soon!

Gerjon Zomer

* You can of course pick other subjects, for instance the 5 scrum values or current problems or challenges the team faces. I choose the 4 agile values from the Manifesto just to remind the team that these values exist 🙂

** This format also does a good job in creating agile awareness outside your team. If you are an Agile coach you might find it helpful.

————————

AGILE MANIFESTO

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working Product* over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

* Okay, the original manifesto speaks of Software

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Scrum ze!

Gerjon Zomer