• Jane

Feedback? Are you Loopy

The process of introducing a feedback loop to aid in inspect and adapt techniques is vital for any business who wants to promote a happy team and business. A term often heard to describe this is 'team retrospective', held as frequently as desired but normally at the end of each iteration (weekly/fortnightly/monthly).

Running a retrospective is a really important part of learning and growing as a team. This leads to many things; including helping your teams work more effectively and efficiently which ultimately leads to higher quality outputs.

There are many ways to facilitate a retrospective meeting, often the use a white board and swim lanes on a board or flip chart is chosen. For example you could have a column which represents ‘what’s working well’ and one for ‘what we can improve on’. Supply the team with sticky notes and pens so they can write an appropriate comment in the context of each column, looking back at the previous work period.

Some examples for whats working well:

  • team daily stand-ups

  • team communication

  • task prioritisation

Some examples for what can be improved:

  • not enough information supplied on specifications

  • too ambitious with the deadlines

  • not realistic estimates on tasks

Another method is a metaphor around a sailing boat; the sails depict whats helping put wind into the sails and move forward at pace, whilst the anchor represents all the things that are slowing down the boat.

As the above examples show, the content of the comments are always non personal but at the same time not too generic. Once the team has had enough time to stick up their notes, the facilitator can group common themes and discuss with the team, its their role to dig a little deeper, surfacing more of the details. These discussions lead to a critical reason behind conducting a restropective; a set of actions that need to be implemented to help the team achieve their goals. Actions should have an owner agreed during the meeting who is responsible ensuring that action moves forward before the next iteration.

Whilst using a white board and sticky notes is better than not using anythings, there are often unsaid issues with this approach, because:

  • Team members may not want to write anything incase they are finger-pointed as being the person who wrote or stuck up the message

  • The more vocal members dominate the sessions

  • The team doesn’t feel safe, often controversial topics are not aired as team members don’t want to be help responsible by their manager

Been in this situation?

Right...well wouldn’t it be good to be able to use a online board where you are able to write a comment without the fear of retribution. As long as the comments are written in a respectful and constructive form then the facilitator can start to discuss actions or remedies without biased. Trust is an important element for a functioning team and this could be the start to gaining trust.

How have you overcome this problem in other ways?