Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

Getting ready for an uncomfortable conversation

October 23, 2016
Like many people, I’d prefer to avoid tough conversations. Yet, addressing such topics is the only way to improve our relationships, our results, and the status quo.
Here are a few tips that I’ve learned from @LyssaAdkins to setup the conversation up for success…
First, take a few minutes to think about the issue from three different perspectives. An exercise called 3-2-1 guides us to envision ourselves first in the 3rd person perspective observing the conversation, “they”. Then, a 2nd person perspective “you”, imagine saying “you did xyz, you Abc”. And then finally an inclusive perspective saying “we” and inviting a shared solution.
Next, I write out what I intend to say and how I want to be received.
And finally, just before the actual conversation, I review my intention as written above.
Try it, you will be amazed at the clarity with which you enter the conversation and with your ability to stay present and on track in the heat of the moment. This will honor the other person and enable productive dialog.

Retrospectives that work

March 14, 2012

Retrospectives are integral to an agile practice. This is our time of reflection and growth. This is the time when we tell each other what we want to change and why. And we commit to one another one thing, just one thing, that we ourselves will do differently over the coming sprint.


Two of the agile values are enabled with Retrospectives are: valuing “Individuals and interactions,” and valuing “Responding to change.” With a retrospective time, we listen to one another, all voices are heard.

A team retrospective can be short, or it may be long. Some sprints will take more time to process and learn from. Reflection and a decision to practice something is the way that we improve.


With the agile team that I was the scrum coach for last year… we started our retrospectives with a simple and quick style. Sometimes we were complete in 15 minutes, sometimes we went on for 60 minutes. It depended on the team, where we needed dialog and discussion.

A simple and quick way to start a retrospective:

1)      On a flipchart or a whiteboard draw a table with 3 sections. A “happy face” section, a “puzzled face” section, and a “commitments” section.

2)      Give a stickies pad to each team member and ask everyone to write one item per sticky and place onto the board. This usually takes 5 minutes. Though, give it more time if people have more to say.

3)      Stand up around the board and re-group the stickies all at once. Talk about the groupings and the patterns

4)      Give each team member one index card and ask everyone to note one thing that they personally will commit to do differently over the next sprint

5)      Ask each person to read their card to the group and place it onto the board

6)      That’s it!

Works well to post this “retrospective” “board” near your task board. And at the start of the next retrospective, first ask everyone to check in with their commit card.


There are many more ways to hold a retrospective. Many! It’s also a great idea to switch up the questions, the style, facilitation, etc. I highly recommend reading this blog post by Jamie Dinkelacker, a Senior Engineering Manager at Google…


And of course the book Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby & Diana Larsen is a goldmine of ideas, too!