One of the approaches that I like the best in retrospectives is when the facilitator splits the team into smaller groups during the brainstorming part of the retrospective.
I decided to try this out in a retrospective we ran after one week of ThoughtWorks University, using The Retrospective Starfish to provide a framework in which people could frame their thoughts.
Usually what I’ve seen happen in these mini groups is that everyone will write down their own ideas on stickies and then discuss them as a group but still put up all the stickies even if the group didn’t agree with everything.
Frankie observed that in this retrospective that hadn’t really happened and the mini groups had been reaching a consensus on their ideas before one or two people went and put them up on the wall.
I think this partly came down to my failure to explain the intent of the exercise clearly i.e. it is a brainstorming exercise rather than an analytical one.
An interesting side effect was that when people came and looked at the wall to see what the other groups had come up with they noticed quite a few things that they agreed with but hadn’t come up with in their group.
I think next time I’ll try and explain the exercise a bit more clearly to help keep people in the mindset of coming up with ideas.
It’s difficult to say if any important points were missed by people analysing so early but there was certainly less duplication of ideas than normal!