Project Weather

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Developing People Retrospectives

Add "Project Weather" to your retrospective design to both "Set the Stage" and "Close the Retrospective". As an opening, it provides a useful segue into creating a shared story and begins the process of gathering data. As a closing, it illustrates any shifts in team members' perspectives that have occurred as a result of their collaboration in the retrospective.

To Prepare:

Create a pre-drawn flip chart with a heading at the top: Project Weather. Add hand drawn graphics across the top, like a sun coming out from behind clouds, clouds and rain, or even the occasional tornado! Divide the flip chart...

An Opportunity: Strategies for Responding to Today’s Unpredictable, Complex and Emergent Environments

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Coaching Developing People

As part of my commitment to my own professional development, a few months ago I attended a certification training program on effective practices in organizational change and leadership development. Although it required more time commitment than usual on my part, I found the experience well worth it. I would make the same decision again if I had it to do over. So when I heard that the Human Systems Dynamics Institute was bringing its HSDP Certification Training Program to Portland in January 2012, I wanted to share my experiences and how the HSD methodology has positively impacted my practice and my work with my clients.

Recognizing Impediments

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 6 Filed Under: Agile Teams

Team member: How will we know when we've found an impediment? What do they look like?

Sponsor: How can I know what impediments block our teams' productivity?

Scrum Master: How can I get the team to mention impediments in our daily meeting and retrospectives?

Product Owner: Why is everyone whining about impediments? Why don't we just get the work done?

It's all fine and well to say identify and remove impediments but often we bump up against a stumbling block, find a way around, and make things work anyway without further thought. It's second nature. Moving forward is what's important. And,...

Do Don't Try

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Retrospectives

Martin Jul writes about a retrospective activity in the post “Retrospectives - Adapting to Reality.” He describes an interesting process for highlighting issues in the Generating Insights part of a retrospective session.

Park Bench

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 2 Filed Under: Retrospectives

I’ve used “Park Bench” at the end of workshops as a way of reflecting on the day or as a debriefing technique after a training exercise to uncover group discoveries. You may be surprised that I hadn’t thought of it for retrospectives. I was. Luckily, Michael thought of it.

Avoidable Heroism

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 5 Filed Under: Agile Teams

Today I invented a phrase (at least I think I invented it because I haven't heard anyone else say it): "Avoidable Heroism."

I invented it in response to a question, "Should my team work on the weekend to meet a commitment made under their control?"

Now, I don't know the background behind this question. Maybe it's perfectly reasonable for them to work on the weekend. Maybe they have no agreement about sustainable pace. And, it raises a few questions in my mind. How often does this happen? How far from the commitment are they? When was the first, best opportunity to...

Circles and Soup

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 4 Filed Under: Retrospectives

Sometimes teams get stuck at the point of “deciding what to do” in retrospectives. Team members may begin to point fingers and describe things that the ubiquitous “they” must do before the team can move forward or make improvements,. This may lead to a team-as-victim, “poor us, we’re stuck” syndrome, or blame and finger-pointing. “It’s their fault we’re in this mess!” Blame kills retrospectives and the perception of persecution stalls any hope of forward motion, so the retrospective leader has to shift this conversation, and fast! Team members also may perceive so much room for improvement they become paralyzed and can’t decide where to start improving their lot.

When victim-talk, blaming or overwhelm surfaces, I reach into my retrospective leaders toolbox and pull out a technique to help teams identify the kinds of action the team can take.

Agile 2010 - Be There

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Events People & Places

I'm attending Agile 2010. Are you?

If you're serious about adopting, grounding, or extending Agile mental models, values, principles, methods, and practices where you work, you'll find answers to your current concerns, and stimulate new questions to consider, at Agile 2010. With 214 sessions ranging across 5 days and 16 thematic stages, you're sure to find many colleagues who face similar challenges.

In Open Jam, the self-organizing area of the conference, you'll find thought leaders whose deep curiosity and desire to learn leads them to sit with you and explore your situation. You'll also find peers and...

Return on Retrospectives (ROR) = Innovation

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Retrospectives

In a comment on an article about Pixar in The Economist, Tom Agan from the Nielsen Company, writes:

"At The Nielsen Company we have just completed a study of the major consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies operating in the U.S. and those with standardized post mortems for new products, like Pixar, average almost 100% more revenue from new products compared to those that don't...I think through articles like this and new research that quantifies the impact, we are coming much closer to uncovering the universal truths of innovation."

I'm willing to put up with The Economist (and Pixar)...

Agile 2010 & the Flood

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Leadership People & Places

When the rains came down and the flood waters rose in Nashville TN one month ago, it became clear the Agile Alliance would have to “respond to change” rather than “following the plan” for our annual Agile 2010 conference—with the conference scheduled to open in only 14 weeks.

LoC & Mary Parker Follet

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 3 Filed Under: Agile Leadership

While in Washington D.C. last month, for the first time I visited the U.S. Library of Congress. Guided by writer and experienced LoC researcher David Schmaltz, I received a temporary library card to research early management thought.

In the glorious reading room under its amazing dome, I held two precious books. One, an (out of print) copy of Mary Parker Follett’s Creative Experience is so old it didn’t have publication date or place data printed in it. However, a little diligent searching told me the edition I held was published in 1924. The book contains ideas offered...

Retrospective Short Subjects II

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 2 Filed Under: Teams Retrospectives

In Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great!, Esther Derby and I include a collection of activities we called, “Short Subjects.”

After Gathering Data, these useful activities provide relatively quick ways to review event, effort, and response data; reflect on the implications of the data; and Generate Insights about team experiences.