This retrospective is useful for tackling a single issue or problem, especially for long term persistent issues that are in danger of becoming the accepted norm.
It is an implementation of the “rule of seven” described by Geoff Watts in his recent book Scrum Mastery, and is useful for situations where you want to focus on a specific issue rather than cover a broad base of improvement ideas. The premise that you come up with seven ideas to tackle the problem before deciding on the best course of action, which can lead to innovative solutions:
I’ve found that the first few solutions or ideas are fairly easy to come up with and, usually, fairly sensible as well. Ideas four and five are a typically a little more off-the-wall and take a little longer to emerge. Ideas six and, especially, seven are sometimes a bit crazy. In ideas six & seven, though, are often the seeds of ground-breaking ideas that can really energise a team and lead to quite astounding solutions.
Set the tone for the retrospective by explaining that a single issue or problem will be explored in depth
Ask the team to come up with one or two long-term issues that are holding them back, then get them to briefly present them to the group. Use dot-voting to choose the issue that will be discussed for the rest of the session (alternatively the topic can be agreed beforehand to save time)
Lead the team to define the problem explicitly to ensure there is a shared understanding. The ORID structure is a good way to do this (Watts)
- Objective: What is happening; who; when. Fact-based, without analysis
- Reflective: How do we feel about what is happening; how might others be affected
- Interpretive: Why is this happening; what effect will this have on the organisation or the project
- Decisional: What are we going to do about this? (save this for the next stage)
Once the issue at hand and the well understood by the group, get them to come up with at least seven different ideas to improve matters. Get the team to write these out on cards as they go.
To wrap up the session, ask which idea or combination of ideas would stand the best chance of mitigating the problem or improving the situation, and help them draw up a plan of action.
Scrum Mastery, Geoff Watts, chapter “Be ADAPTIVE in Retrospectives”