The Lens Retrospective
Last week I was asked to facilitate a retrospective for a team and I decided to try out a new format. I’d facilitated their first retro a few weeks earlier and the scope had been for a whole release: 10 weeks. The scope of the second one covered only two weeks and during this shorter period time the team had been preparing for their next release by doing release planning activities and clearing technical debt. Given the reduced timeframe and the fact that the team was preparing for a fresh start, I wanted the format of the retrospective to include some forward thinking (or ‘futurespective’) elements.
Last year I purchased a copy of HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself. One of the articles (‘Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time’ by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy), discusses techniques that are used to help people balance their perception of events. This is done by asking people to “view (a situation) through any of three new lenses”. In the article they give an example of three lenses that can be used for a conflict situation.
Borrowing from the lens idea, I asked the participants in the retrospective I ran to consider the last two weeks through three lenses:
1. The Reverse Lens: Given what we know now, what learnings and appreciations can be take from the last 2 weeks?
2. The Wide Lens: Regardless of the outcomes of the project, what do we hope to try, learn and grow?
3. The Long Lens: Imaging that it’s 6 months from now, what’s the situation (practices, achievements etc)?
The group asked for about 10 minutes for individual brainstorming. After that I did some grouping and clarifying before people voted for what they wanted to discuss. The rest of the 1 hour session was spent working our way through the discussion points.
The team came out with 4 practical actions. I asked for feedback on the format at the end of the session and everyone was very positive. The only point that came up that I would consider before running this retro style again was that they felt was more difficult to generate ideas for the Wide Lens category than it was for the other two. That said, there were just as many sticky notes on that sheet as on the other two.
If you decide to try out this format then please let me know how it goes.