Recently I was going through old emails to review some key events that occurred on one of my projects from a few years ago (if you’ve never done this, try it – it was like finding a treasure chest of real-life lessons that were amazing to recall!). I came across a special retrospective exercise that I had designed just for my team at the time, which I dubbed the Accomplishment Partnership Retro. It’s great to have a team that trusts you enough to help them through this, because the exercise can be challenging for teams who are uncomfortable with being vulnerable with each other – but the gains are tremendous. Here’s the gist:
This is a retrospective technique for teams that are challenged with:
Start by asking the question:
- What did you accomplish this sprint that you are the most proud of?
- Have the team members write down their individual response on a sticky note (one accomplishment per note) and place it on a white board in a column entitled “Accomplished!”
Follow that question with:
- What would you do differently that would have resulted in additional accomplishment?
- Have the team members write down their individual response on a sticky note (one do-differently per note) and place it on the white board in another column entitled “Do-Differently”
Once everyone has contributed, give the team a moment to walk up to the board and read through everyone’s responses.
To get to an action item:
- Ask team members to each find synergies between what they wish they could have done differently and what someone else on the team was most proud of. Have them draw a line connecting those sticky notes.
- Alternatively, ask team members to review their do-differently results to find another team member whose answer shares something in common with their own. Have them draw a line connecting those sticky notes.
Team members then pair up (or create a small group, I suggest not more than 3) to be each other’s “accomplishment partners” throughout the following sprint. They check in with each other on a daily basis throughout the sprint, or pair / collaborate together, to follow through on their “do-differently” items. The next retro should revisit their progress, and see if the partnership is having the desired results.
The results we had were truly remarkable: I saw the team improve their communication with each other, seek out collaboration opportunities, hold each other accountable to their commitments, and even improve the quality of their work because they all had a vested interest in how well their teammates were doing. By creating a sense of community and supportiveness within the team, we were able to accomplish more. I would love to hear from anyone who tries this with their team – good luck!