Optimizing Retrospectives on Distributed Agile Teams

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  • #SococoLife Webinar Series

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    Optimizing Retrospectives on Distributed Agile Teams

  • Agenda

    :05 Introductions :25 Four Distributed Team Social Epidemics :15 Five Cures to Fix What Ails You :05 Retrospective Tactical Mini Demo :20 Q&A :05 Key Takeaways & Wrap Up

  • Introductions!

    David Horowitz - PanelistDavid is the CEO and Co-Founder of Retrium, a company dedicated to making retrospectives easy and effective for distributed teams. David is a passionate Agilist and a true believer in the power of retrospectives as a driver of continuous improvement. In addition to Retrium, David has another full time job: he is the father of two little ones!

  • Introductions!

    AgileBill Krebs - Panelist"AgileBill" Krebs has over 20 years of experience that includes development, performance, as well as Agile training and coaching to over 2,000 people.

    He holds the 'grand slam' of advanced Agile certifications, including SPC, CSP, PMI-ACP, IGQI, and ICP-AC. He is continuing his education with a graduate degree specializing in distributed teams.

    Currently, Bill hosts the Distributed Agile Study Group, speaks at conferences, teaches, and coaches Agile teams.

  • Introductions!

    Mandy Ross - ModeratorMandy recently moved into the role of Director of Marketing for Sococo, after serving as Director of Program Management since 2012. Her past employers include Handspring, Palm, Apple, Sony and Boeing. A telecommuter since 2005, she lives for helping distributed teams establish remote work best practices by connecting people to create thought leadership for distributed teams.

  • Lets Get Started!

    Optimizing Retrospectives on Distributed Agile Teams

  • An Agile retrospective is a meeting that's held at the end of an iteration in Agile software development. During the retrospective, the team reflects on what happened in the iteration and identifies actions for improvement going forward.

    What IS a retrospective?


  • Part 1: Four Social Epidemics

    Impacting Distributed TeamRetrospectives

  • Epidemic #1

    Social Loafing Its very easy for remote workers to

    space out during group activities. In the virtual world there are fewer

    ways to understand if meeting attendees are actually participating.

    Retrospective effectiveness is directly proportional to the ability/desire of team members to involve themselves in the process of self-examination.

  • Epidemic #2

    Social Anxiety Many people are uncomfortable talking

    about problems openly. Remote teams have fewer social cues

    and less ability to read reactions, which can create unease.

    Retrospectives rely on people feeling safe enough to be honest about their feelings and not being afraid to surface issues

  • Epidemic #3

    Regression to the Mean The principle under which highly

    performing group members end up matching the performance of their less talented counterparts.

    Collective brainstorming dilutes the thinking of the participants, and the quality of ideas averages itself out.

    A strong breadth of ideas surfaced during retrospectives are foundational to continuous improvement.

  • Epidemic #4

    Production Blocking Distributed teams thrive when they

    can communicate as a group. Most media create single-threaded

    conversations. An artificial thought funnel is created,

    and good input is lost as the funnel narrows.

    As the breadth of input diminishes, so does the effectiveness of the retrospective.

  • 5 Cures for Your Retrospective

    Social Ailments

  • Cure #1Focus on relationships and interactions.

    Closeness is built by sharing about yourself, and not just work stuff.

    Be sensitive to time zones and schedules. If your team is distributed, focus on being

    good at being distributed: encourage intentional random interactions with others.

    Do this outside of the retrospective to build trust and empathy you have established with each other.

  • Cure #2 Have a fantastic facilitator who knows distributed teams

    Encourages participation by creating a safe online space to communicate and a foundation of trust

    Empowers team by moderating the conversation so that all perspectives are uniquely included

    Creates a sense of value and clarity Understands differences in cultural

    values around speaking up and disagreement

  • Cure #3

    Keep the playing field even. Extroverts more easily dominate

    conversations in virtual space, and introverts more easily exclude themselves

    Gather individual written feedback privately

    Moderate a broader discussion to allow the less verbal folks to get their ideas in

    Facilitation of private thinking creates less bias

  • Cure #4

    Agree to the Retrospective Prime DirectiveRegardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.Norman L. Kerth, Elite Systems

  • Cure #5

    The Right Tool for the Right Job Different teams need different tools for

    their retrospectives. Successful Agile leaders will be on top of

    the challenges the team faces, and will always be actively looking for solutions.

    Effective tools are easy, natural and fun to use - removes the effort required to make oneself heard in Retrospectives..

  • Real Time Demo: How We Conduct Our


  • Be sure to watch the webinar to catch this portion of the presentation! WATCH



  • Q & A

    Q & ABe sure to watch the webinar recording to catch this portion of the presentation!



  • Research Citation

    Why Group Brainstorming Is a Waste of TimeBy Dr. Tomas Chamorro-PremuzicProfessor of Business Psychology at University College London, and a faculty member at Columbia University

    Harvard Business Review, March 25, 2015



  • Key takeaways

    Successful retrospectives with enthusiastic participation of the entire team are foundational to building trust and continuously improving your distributed Agile team.

    Keeping your distributed team socially engaged during retrospectives is a combination of focused leadership, skilled facilitation, and the right toolset.

    Ensuring the entire team has the same opportunities to share their ideas and get input on them will elicit the most useful feedback.

  • Exclusive Webinar Offer!

    Available ONLY to attendees of this webinar: a free, 1-hour strings-free consultation with David on how to optimize your distributed team retrospectives!

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