Adding a timeline to your sprint backlog

I like retrospectives, actually, I love retrospectives. Especially retrospectives that really get to the root of any problems the team are having and then get a great solution or at least something to try. The trouble is, retrospectives can often be stale, how many times have you been in a retrospective and had this:

So, um, yeah, good sprint, I think everything went well, didn’t it? I had a problem with some testing, but I fixed it. What was it? I can’t remember. Something to do with fixtures, but it got done.

The problem with memories is that they’re fallible. Who can remember what you did two days ago, let alone a week ago. Certainly me and, it appears, neither can the teams I coach. There are things, you can do to make retrospectives better, but this wasn’t so much a problem with the retrospective as a problem with memory. So, what did the teams do? Added a timeline to their sprint backlog. It’s quite simple really. Create a grid on the bottom and, in every standup, discuss whether anything happened yesterday that could be added to the board. The idea is to get key things on there, so, stuff that went wrong, stuff you noticed or learnt, good stuff; use it as a way to remember the timeline of the sprint. When you get to the retrospective, you’ll then have an entirely different conversation than the one above.

A Timeline
Timelines FTW

Some of the teams have gone a step further and added an arrow to remind them which day of the sprint it is and even added holidays/absences. What do your teams do to remember their iteration?

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