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We spoke to Paul Goddard about how to carry out agile rituals in a way that brought the best out of every team member. Whether you have natural introverts becoming quieter, or zoom fatigue is taking over, Paul had plenty of ideas to reenergise your regular team events and get the creative juices flowing.
Retrospectives are pretty powerful meetings. They deal with the emotional, human side of work and are a time to reflect, create shared understanding and agree on action items. Words play an important part in any meeting, not just retrospectives, but they are especially important when emotions are high. That's what makes Paul's creation very powerful.
The Retrospective Lexicon is very easy to use. Most facilitators use a variety of 3 or sometimes 4 column formats and ask participants to add a sticky note in one of the columns. E.g under “stop” someone might say “stop accepting new work mid sprint”. There are loads of formats like this with columns start/stop/keep mad/sad/glad etc. The lexicon is a set of words for the tops of these columns. You get subtly different results for different words e.g. under “messy” the same person might write “accepting work mid sprint meant our planning had to happen twice”. The experienced coach can select words from the lexicon that address some subjective need of the team, or pick at random to keep things fresh.
The Sprint planning session is the first event that kicks off your sprint. In collaboration with the whole team, you define what can be delivered in the sprint and how that work will be achieved.
To have an effective planning session, you need an environment where your team members feel safe, spontaneous, creative and ready to solve problems.
Paul Goddard’s Sprint Planning Kick-Start deck is a simple pick and mix collection. This time each card represents a game or activity that a facilitator can run at the beginning of a sprint planning session.
In sprint planning, teams have to process the backlog and proposed sprint goal and choose a set of achievable work items to deliver in the sprint, which may include elements of design and estimation. It is a very creative and intellectually challenging ritual. The games are all designed to help teams operate at their best as a team in these environments. In particular they all intend to help meet particular psychological needs, those needs are complex and are described in our blog post.
Daily stand-ups are an opportunity to adjust your immediate plans for the day or week so you can achieve your goal.
Paul's Daily Stand-up Challenge is similar to the Sprint Planning Kick Start cards in the way it’s played but the focus is more on encouraging the team members to listen and observe each other. At the start of the meeting, the team picks a card from the deck and follows what’s written on it. These are some fun tasks like ‘Last letter first’ where each member gives an update that begins with the last letter used by the previous player and some very helpful ideas for e.g. including certain questions like what made the team member smile, proud or worried the previous day.
Some team members can do a secret challenge, whereby they do something during the meeting captured in one of the ‘Secret Challenge’ cards and the other players have to try and spot it. All tasks on the cards have been cleverly put together to help teams run their stand ups but also have some fun and be more present especially when these sessions run the risk of becoming repetitive and mundane.
In our workshops with Paul, when we used these decks, it was amazing to observe how an external input, from a simple deck of cards, can completely rewrite how an intellectual problem is approached. Paper cannot make a team do anything, but at the same time, nobody seems to want to argue with a bit of paper.