Tired of long, stressful Retrospectives? Try out the “Triple B Retrospective”

by Sampath Prahalad

As a Scrum Master and moderator, are you getting bored with the way the Retrospectives are being held? Are they becoming forums where few individuals dominate and/or accusations are hurled at each other and not much constructive is coming out of them?

Here is a minor tweaking of the usual Retrospective format to ensure that each team member gets a fair chance to reflect and portray his/her views candidly.

Let us call it the Triple B Retrospective:”Bouquets, Brickbats and Bulbs”

  • Put up a chart paper (A2 or bigger) in the team area 2-5 days before the Sprint end (depending on the duration of the Sprint). Create 3 distinct areas with the below headings
    • Bouquets: Appreciation for a team member, Anything positive within the Sprint
    • Brickbats: Any process that can be improved, toned down or scrapped.
    • Bulbs: Bright ideas here on what can be done differently starting next Sprint.
  • Keep some sticky notes and a few pens near this feedback sheet.
  • Schedule the Retrospective in advance for the last day of the Sprint.
  • Announce in the daily scrum that you solicit feedback using the Sticky notes on the sheet of paper.
    • The person giving the brickbat feedback can be anonymous.
    • For the bouquets, we would love to know the person nominating the fellow team member.
  • Before the Retrospective meeting starts, collect the sticky notes that are on the chart that any team member has already put up. This is to ensure that the team does not get biased by the feedback that is already on the chart.
  • In the Retrospective, give the team 10 mins to write out their feedback on the Triple Bs, on Sticky notes (1 for each feedback item). This has to be done in silence without consulting one another.
  • Now, collect the Sticky notes from each person and the ones that were removed before the meeting, put up the Appreciations and Positives in the Bouquets area in the chart. Similarly, for the other 2 areas.
  • Ask each team member to take a marker and put a tick across the sticky note that makes sense. Each team member can vote for 1 or 2 Sticky notes in each area.
  • Once all team members are done, take the top 3 or 5 sticky notes from each area.
    • Appreciations to any team member should be rewarded with a standing ovation from the team and a small token of appreciation.
    • Read out the top notes for Brickbats (improvements) and Bulbs (ideas) in descending order of votes,
    • Provide for a maximum of 2 mins per note to draw up any follow up actions, owners or related discussions. Ensure that the discussion stays as neutral as possible without any one person dominating or throwing accusations.
  • Summarize by quickly giving a shout out to the team, reading out the few Actionable items (with owners) for improvement, and Ideas that shall be tried out.

This works well because of 2 powerful factors. Anonymity and Silence.

Try it out and let me know.


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