A retrospective story

Yesterday I had the opportunity to help facilitate a retrospective. 

Ok, OK. Not that impressive. Why are you writing about it?

This one was an office retrospective.

It was the first anniversary of our development center in Amsterdam. 
OK, maybe it was in September. Anyway, the important thing, this was an opportunity to look back, reflect and gather some learning. 

Together with the other Scrum Masters, we brainstormed on how to make it effective. We had a unique opportunity and we didn’t want to do the usual, what went well, what can we improve.

We came up with the idea to do (similar to the Spotify squad health check) an office health check.

Why a health check?

We could have done a normal retro for a group of 10 people, that would have been “fine”. But we don’t really aim for “fine”.

We had representatives from all areas of our office. Together they would look back and reflect on the past year. 

By having a health check, our idea was to keep the focus of the discussion in a couple of key categories. These categories would then be related to our office, and be rated on a scale of 1 to 4. (4 meaning very good and 1 meaning very bad)

By having a scaled voting system, this also allowed us to bring everyone in the office to this discussion by sending out a survey.

Put all the categories in a FORM, send an email to the whole office and get the feedback.

Why a 1 to 4 scale?

Do you remember Pokemon Go?

One of the pitfalls of the game was that teams were not balanced. Why?

Most players choose the middle option. It is the easiest one when you don’t want to think too much.

Keeping the scale an even number prevents the normal “meh” middle vote. If someone feels like it is not either good or bad, they need to decide if it is more to the side of bad or to the side of good.

What categories did we choose?

Unlike a regular squad health check, you can read more about it on the Spotify labs page. Our focus was on the office.

We came up with the following categories:

  • Culture & Climate
  • Leadership
  • Ways of Working
  • Time to Market/Delivery
  • Facilities
  • Integration with other offices – we have several locations

Are these the only categories that matter? Probably not. They were the ones we thought of, maybe you have better ones. If so please share them with me on Linkedintwitter or by email.

How often should you do them?

This is the million-dollar question.

For team health checks, I truly believe that once a quarter is the best approach. Also, because usually you can derive a team OKR from that check and have a team objective for that quarter.

For the office, and this is my personal opinion, it should be the same. Every quarter at least, look back at where we were and what we can improve.

Altho, I have a caveat.

The task force or group that you use for the office health check doesn’t meet every day. 

For this to become fruitful, there needs to be a recurrent meeting. The group needs to check the progress of the actions regularly. Again, in my personal opinion, this should happen at least every 2 weeks.

Cheers,

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