An Example of How to Run an Agile Restrospective Using Design Thinking

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I share with you in this post the design thinking workshop protocol that I use to run my agile retrospectives.

The workshop is divided in four big steps:

  1. Introduction
  2. Problem contextualization
  3. Finding solutions
  4. Adding the solutions to the backlog

Approaching the problem from the customers’ perspective, design thinking uses the double diamond process model to recontextualize the problem to find solutions adapted to the read needs.

In the case of my agile restrospectives using design thinking, my customers are my teams.

1. Introduction

Duration Activities / Goals / ActionsMaterial
5 minActivity:
– Knowing expectations
Goal:
– To map participants’ expectations with workshop objectives
Actions:
– Individually: In one sticky, the participant writes what she expects
for this meeting

– Projector
– Flipchart
– Markers
– Sticky notes
10 minActivity:
– Presentation of agenda and methodology
Goal:
– To reasure partipants about sequence of activites and the double
diamond methodology
Actions:
– Present the goals and the agenda (PPT) – 5’
– Present the double diamong (Flipchart) – 5′
Material:

– Laptop
– Projector
– Flipchart
– Markers

2. Problem contextualization

I present this part as “finding improvement points”

DurationActivities / Goals / Actions Material
15 minActivity:
Brainstorming: What can be improved in terms of:
 Communication
 Business ideation phase
 Requirements management
 Decision process
 Planning
Goal:
– To identify the most quantity of statements related to problems
Actions:
– Individually: One possible answer to the 3 questions
per sticky note – 5’
– Sharing the notes. More post-its can be written – 10’
– Flipcharts
– Sticky notes
– Markers
– Pens
15 minActivity:
– Clustering sticky notes
Goal:
– To cluster notes to start to be able to prioritize
Actions:
– In two groups, one group per flipchart, cluster the sticky notes.
Split or add additional sticky notes if needed – 5’
– One person per group present the clusters – 10’
– Flipchart
– Post-its
– Markers
– Pens
5 minActivity:
– Dot voting:
 The most urgent (red dots)
 The most you feel more concerned (blue dots)
Goal:
– To identify the most critical clusters for the team to start
writing the problem statement
Actions:
– 2 urgent dots and 2 feel concerned dots per person.
– At the same time they will put it on the problem statements
on the wall
– 2 colour sticky dots
30 minActivity:
– Problem statement Formula:
 What is wrong
 In which context
 The impact
Goal:
– To identify the real problems independently of the causes
and possible solutions
Actions:
– In group of two complete as much problem statements for the clusters – 15’
– One person per group present the clusters – 15’
– Flipchart Table:
where, when,
impact
– Sticky notes
– Markers
– Pens
– A4 paper
5 minActivity:
– Dot voting:
 The most urgent (red dots)
 The most you feel more concerned (blue dots)
Goal:
– To identify the most critical problems statements for the team
Actions:
– 2 urgent dots and 2 feel concerned dots per person.
– At the same time they will put it on the problem statements
on the wall
– 2 colour sticky dots
30 minActivity:
– 3 why’s per problem statement
Goal:
– To identify the real problem and the root cause
Actions:
– Each group, for their problem statements identify 3 why’s – 15’
– One person per group present the 5 why’s of each statement – 10’
– Open the discussion to identify additional why’s – 5’
– Flipchart table:
 ID
 Problem statement
 3 columns for why’s
– Sticky notes
– Markers
5 min Activity:
– Dot voting:
 The most urgent (red dots)
 The most you feel more concerned (blue dots)
Goal:
– To identify the most critical root causes to be tackled by the team
Actions:
– 2 urgent dots and 2 feel concerned dots per person.
– At the same time they will put it on the problem statements
on the wall

– 2 colour sticky dots

3. Finding solutions

I continue this part of the workshop starting from most critical root causes identified by the team.

DurationActivities / Goals / Actions Material
15 minActivity:
Brainstorming: proposing solutions
Goal:
– To identify as much potential solutions to tackle the roots causes identified
Actions:
– Divide the audience in 2 groups
– Individually in the group: write (one per sticky note) as much solutions to tackle the root cause – 5′
– Sharing the notes. More sticky notes can be added – 10’
– Flipcharts
– Sticky notes
– Markers
– Pens
15 minActivity:
– Clustering sticky notes
Goal:
– To cluster notes to start to be able to prioritize the potential solutions
Actions:
– In two groups, one group per flipchart, cluster the sticky notes.
Split or add additional sticky notes if needed – 5’
– One person per group present the clusters – 10’
– Flipchart
– Post-its
– Markers
– Pens
5 minActivity:
– Dot voting:
 The most urgent (red dots)
 The most you feel more concerned (blue dots)
Goal:
– To identify the most relevant potential solutions for the team to start
writing the solution statement
Actions:
– 2 urgent-to-do dots and 2 I-like-this-one dots per person.
– At the same time they will put it on the problem statements
on the wall
– 2 colour sticky dots
30 minActivity:
– Solution statement Formula:
 Because (Root cause of problem statement)
 I propose (the idea/action to solve the problem)
 That I can measure in this way: (indicator)
Goal:
– To have a common understanding of the proposed solution and
how to measure success
Actions:
– In group of two complete as much solution statements for the clusters – 15’
– One person per group present the clusters – 15’
– Flipchart Table:
where, when,
impact
– Sticky notes
– Markers
– Pens
– A4 paper
5 minActivity:
– Dot voting:
 The most urgent (red dots)
 The most you feel more concerned (blue dots)
Goal:
– To prioritize which solutions must be implemented by the team
Actions:
– 2 urgent dots and 2 feel concerned dots per person.
– At the same time they will stick the dots on the solution statements
on the wall
– 2 colour sticky dots

4. Adding the solutions to the backlog

If I do not have additional time during the workshop, I just add the solutions to the backlog, been sure that the team agrees on the priority and a draft estimation of the effort needed.

Then, the solution, as any other backlog element, will follow the flow to be refined and get ready for the next sprint.

If I do have time, the refinement of the solution is directly done, so that the task to be done are identified and planned, potentially, for the next sprint.

Some final comments

  • I use the protocol I have shared with you as a template, that I adapt depending on my audience, team maturity and time constraints
  • I retrospect 10 minutes at the end of the workshop with the participants to improve my protocol
  • The most you use it the less you will need to have it printed to lead the workshop
  • Be flexible, if you need to reduce or extent the time for the activities. The value is to put people to talk and to get actionable backlog items

And you? How do you run agile retrospectives?

Cheers,

Falcon