Hi there :)!
Back in February I wrote this post about Retrospectives, giving hints on whom, when, why and how to do it, plus some references for you to learn more about it.
The thing is: I may not have focused something really really important:
People HATE retrospectives, your job is to make them have FUN.
there’s a reason: Teams are the most unfortunated and unhappy beings at the face of earth. Let me just explain you some of the hidden rules and harsh conditions teams are obliged to follow when they are formed. Let’s make it more educated and call it Rules and Principles of Team Behavior.
Principles of Team Behavior:
1. You shall feel pressure all the time from everywhere.
(Even and specially from people you’ve never seen and which no one really knows what’s their role, contribution, in the organization).
2. You have to talk to people.
(Even when you dont speak the same language or have anything to say, keep training on every opportunity)
3. You shall use words during communication with other beings.
(Numbers are valid if spoken or cardinal form used)
4. You shall always smile
(Always, no matter what, Be Chucky!)
5. You shall always be friendly to others (including when they bring you bugs, specially when they think they are bringing you bugs)
(Always treat others as if you are dating then, relation improves a lot. Don’t cross over to commitment, else relation declines. Keep yourself and your relations in sweet promise land)
6. You shall always be happy for helping others
(Always, no matter what, even when asked to perform euthanasia)
… which lives in perfect harmony with….
Rules of Team Behavior:
1. You must deliver on time, preferably 1 week before
2. You must refactor, not using project timeframe
(Unless you work in Recycling Business)
3. You must automated tests
(Even exploratory )
4. You must write documentation
(in several formats and media, so it reaches bigger audience)
5. You must help other teams and still do all you promised (and deliver 1 week before)
(Collaboration is the sweet perfume of a lovely team, be lovely)
6. You must help all bugs perish in peace
(Every Bug, because it is your baby, must be treated gently and it shall always be remembered in the sweet valleys of Automation)
The point here is that teams feel pressure to deliver functional interesting stuff (which is ok, else they wouldn’t be hired right? ).
The catch is that they are requested also to work as a team, requested to do their own predictions (also known as estimations) and to decide on how to implement stuff. The truth is, be prepared: most people are not used to do this. Most people need time to learn how to estimate, predict, plan, postpone, take decisions, define precedence… all those crapy things that make Management and Planning a real graduation in University. Plus, they are asked to do some real work. (I mean: work that you can sell to others, considering you are not a Management Consultancy Company
And from here comes: People HATE retrospectives, your job is to make them have FUN.
In retros you ask them mainly to talk about human relations and to talk and define action plans to deal with “not so successful things that happened last sprint”. And here I mean FAILURE.
Lets call it what it is: Failure. Every time you miss the deadline or the scope,or you deliver bugs rather than software, rather its other’s or your own perception: it tastes like pure, smelly Failure.
Obviously that teams work their.. buttock.. out every single day, so most probably they hate to see things havent worked out for the best. AS such do you think its easy or pleasant to talk about it ? and as C. Avery taught us : its always a long way up for humans in the responsibility ladder!
So make your retrospectives fun. Less embarrassing, less formal, less painful. Make it easy for them to talk about failure. Make it easier for them to have fun and grow together.
That’s all you have to do: make good vibes bigger than bad vibes.