A great retrospective!

A great retrospective!

I’ve blogged before about remote teams where I am now and how well we manage to make it work, even with people in another timezone. Because we’ve got people remote, our retrospectives are, naturally, done over video chat (hangouts in our case) and we use webwhiteboard (by none other than Henrik Kniberg!) to make it as interactive as possible.

Today, we had just such a meeting and I really wanted to show you the output. Nothing much to learn from this post (except how we retro), but I thought the webwhiteboard worth sharing – just for fun.


Mad, Glad, Sad retrospectives

I help my first retrospective for a while recently (that’s not to say the team hasn’t been retrospecting, just that others have been doing it in my stead!) and the team wanted to do the Mad, Glad, Sad exercise.Image

Shockingly, I didn’t know it. Or at least, I didn’t think I did.

The exercise starts with everyone writing on three different coloured posts-its the things that made the mad, glad or sad during the sprint. We then stuck them all up on the whiteboard under an appropriate picture.

We all studied it for a while, but I couldn’t really work out what the difference was between mad and sad. The idea of a retrospective is that you inspect and adapt. Look at what you did, how you did it and change things if they need improving. The idea of mad and sad should be things that, affected us negatively that we want to change in future sprints.

But what is the difference? I asked the team. They didn’t know either.

So, we set about trying to decide what each thing meant. In many retrospectives in the past, we’ve realised that there are things that went wrong, didn’t work or just plain sucked that we could fix and there were things that can be classed as ‘Shit Happens’. Stuff that, while we might expend some effort in fixing them, are unlikely to occur anytime in the near future, so we draw a line under it and move on – there are always more pressing things to deal with.

So, using this idea, we renamed Sad to “Get stuff off my chest” and Mad to “I’m not going to take it ANYMORE”.


This means, we can highlight things that annoyed, frustrated or saddened us, but that, realistically speaking, there isn’t a lot of value in dealing with and then the stuff that REALLY got under our skin and we have to deal with.

Once we’d renamed them, we then re-sorted the post-its we’d stuck under the two columns and found that, things we might have dealt with as a real problem and spent time working on, were no more than just people wanting to have a rant, and real problems might have been overlooked as they hadn’t been applied with enough gravity. Perhaps the team member feels that it’s just something bothering them and doesn’t want to make an issue of it.

We worked through all three columns and, during discussion, decided to move some from Sad to Mad and vice versa as we discussed the pros and cons of each. In the end, we had a good, solid list of things that ‘we’re not going to take ANYMORE’ which turned into a list of definite actions.

So, if you run this exercise with your team, check their and your assumptions about what Glad and Sad mean – you may be met with blank looks – and make sure you all have the same understanding to make a good exercise into a great one.

An Open Letter To Those Modifying Scrum To "Fit"


Scrum is not about keeping the faith, I am completely committed to scrum, as, I think, are you. It’s about hearts and minds. American military generals bang on about it all the time and for good reason. For months and months we’ve been calling it a “stand up” or a “scrum” and, on the very eve of launching our latest product, which was designed, written, managed and launched using scrum, we switch to calling it a “huddle”. What this says, unconsciously perhaps, is that we stopped doing a standup and when we switched to a “huddle” the product got launched; not a good advert for doing scrum.

Might sound like a bunch of crap, but it’s all psychologically sound.

We are a scrum team, regardless of whether we’re actually in a sprint, if we all stand up at the beginning of a day, then we’re doing a stand up. We can do a huddle if there’s less people and it’s at a different time of the day, maybe. There are ceremonies and artefacts of Scrum and the last time I looked, a huddle wasn’t one of them. The rules are few, simple and really easy to follow. Breaking them, for whatever reason, should not be done. If you’re breaking the rules of Scrum, you’re NOT doing scrum! Simple as that. If you break the rules of chess, while you’re playing chess, you’re not playing chess and you’ll probably get a punch on the nose from your opponent for cheating to boot.

One of my responsibilities as a scrum master and dedicated member of the team is to improve the scrum process, this can only be done with more and more business buy in – if we start diluting it now, then we take two steps back. The product got delivered BECAUSE OF scrum, not in spite of it. Without scrum it would have been a different story (probably wouldn’t have failed, but it wouldn’t have been launched yet). I can only do my job with the help of the team and, although I don’t think you called it a huddle because you want to rename the standup to huddle, I need your support in pushing through scrum, which includes not diluting it.

Do you understand my point? It’s about cohesion and making sure we’re always an advert for ourselves and the way we do things and the reason for doing things and that we get things done BECAUSE of the CHOICES WE MAKE as a TEAM on how we do the things we do.

Kind regards,

Mike Pearce