Allan Kelly has held just about every job in the software world, from sys admin to development manager. Today he provides training and coaching to teams in the use of Agile and Lean techniques. He is the author of "Changing Software Development: Learning to become Agile" (2008) and "Business Patterns for Software Developers" (2012) and a frequent conference speaker. Allan is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 77 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile
Regular readers will know I’ve been pushing Dialogue Sheets as a new retrospective technique. I have observed a number of dialogue sheet sessions - both the retrospective sheets I’ve made public
plus some other sheets I’m still testing. Someone from Motorola
recently asked for my observations on using dialogue sheets and I
thought it would be a good opportunity to make my observations public.
a facilitator I find there is very little for me to do, the sheets are
designed to be used without a facilitator. As an observer I have been
asked to intervene occasionally. Usually I try to say nothing, if the
group is willing they can usually work out what to do themselves. When
people in the group are either suspicious (something new) or unsure
about the retrospective they usually need a few words of explanation.
The most common sticking point is Kerth's Prime Directive.
Some people seem unwilling to accept it for the duration of the
retrospective. They start making comments about how they don't think
people did not do their best.
I don't like stepping in when this
happens because I think the group needs to come to an understanding
themselves. This eventually happens even if it is something like "well
we kind of ignore that" but it can take a while.
The second thing
I have noticed is time: It is not how many questions there are on the
sheet that determine how long the retrospective will take but the number
of people involved. When there are 4 people it is quite fast, when it
is 8 it takes longer. So far I haven't found a good rule of thumb for
determining just how long the sheet will take.
Sometimes I intervene to just remind people of the time and move them along.
other bit which can be difficult is the end questions. They are
intended to bring the group to set of conclusions which they can act on.
Still sometimes the items are "Better communication" which while right
isn't very specific or actionable.
There have been plenty of
dialogue sheets downloads now and I occasionally e-mail downloaders for
feedback. Of those those who have used the sheets “energized” is the
most common comment.
I’m planning to revamp the three existing
sheets and add one for project start-up. I’ve also had a request to
translate them into other languages - specifically German. Once the
revamp is complete I’ll start on some translations. I’m also thinking
of creating a mailing list for discussion dialogue sheets.