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Agile Retrospectives are very important to the growth of an agile team and to the continuous improvement of the process. It’s a way to achieve kaizen, witch its a japanese word that means to improve continuously.
According to the retrospectives.com website, a retrospective is a ritual gathering of a community at the end of a project to review the events and learn from the experience. No one knows the whole story of the project. Each person has a piece of the story. The retrospective ritual is the collective telling of the story and mining the experience for wisdom.
It’s very common for agile teams to have one retrospective meeting each iteration. A very good tool recommended by Rob Bowley is the Six Hats of Thinking. It’s a method develop by Dr. Edward de Bono that combined with the idea of parallel thinking, provides means for groups to think together more effectively.
According to the wikipedia, the premise of the method is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be identified, deliberately accessed and hence planned for use in a structured way allowing one to develop strategies for thinking about particular issues.
Dr. Bono, identified six different states represented by six hats with different colors. To apply this technique in an agile retrospective meeting, divide the retrospective in six parts, one for each hat, its recommend to spend about 10 minutes in each hat.
First start with the blue hat. Discussing with the teamthe objectives for the session and writing the output on the whiteboard.
After the blue change to the white hat. Now the participants raise and discuss anything from the last iteration which can be said to be a fact or information. Hunches and feelings and any discussion of reasons or other non information based output should be left for the appropriate hat.
The third hat is the yellow. Participants can only talk about the good thinks that happened in the last iteration.
Then go to the black hat. Participants can only talk about the bad things that happened, any negative criticism they have or worst case scenarios they can think of.
The next is the green. The discussion moves on to any ideas people have about solving problems or things that may add more value to the business or help in any way.
Now go the red hat, and give the participants a short period of time to come up with two statements each. These could be the issues that have stood out for them the most or an idea for solving a problem. These statements should be instinctive which is why you will give them very little time to do this.
Finally spend a little time with the group looking at the output and let the team decide on some actions to take in order to solve some of the bad things, keep the good ones, and apply some ideas in order to improve.
Well, that’s all for today. Thank you very much for listen, and please post your comments, questions and feedback at the agile podcast website or drop me a line at andrefaria at agilepodcast dot com. Let me know what you think, tell me about how your team retrospective meetings are going.
I’m André Faria, great to have you listening. I’ll talk too you again next week.