Houston Way Retrospective on a bus

Imagine the worst possible conditions for holding a retrospective. My imagination put me in a basement with my mother-in-law…Maybe you pictured yourself with a customer who hates agile, scrum and most probably you as well?

“At first the basement sounded hard enough.”

At first the basement sounded hard enough. Then we realized it doesn’t move. Thus we took our 40 agile minded people and decided to organize the retro on a bus! Our goal was to collect concrete action points for developing Houston and its culture.

We organized ourselves in seven teams. Each retro team had been assigned a leader who guided the process and wrote the action points down. Every leader had a small retro-kit, which consisted of post-its, markers and biros.

Retro seats.

Most of the teams warmed up by listing positive things about Houston. Next they proceeded to the improvement possibilities. Almost every team first decided to list ideas individually on the post-its. Each team remembered to focus on collecting the action points. We had reminded ourselves what a good action point should look like. According to the SMART-criteria it should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. An example of a good action point would be: “Mr. X organizes three Scala dojos in May 2011”.

“What does Houston Way mean to us? Is it just empty words?”

The teams continued the discussion and the retro leaders started collecting the action points: What does Houston Way mean to us? Is it just empty words? How could we make it concrete? What does trust mean for us? Which actions will help our customers trust us?

In the end each group had produced nearly twenty action points and ideas! Here are some of them:

Retro action points.

We learned that it’s definitely possible to organize a successful retro on a bus! Holding a retro on a general subject “our company” will produce a lot of discussion and brings hot topics in the open. Then again, getting real action points from this kind of a retro is challenging. I think we succeeded quite well. Prioritizing the action points is probably best done by first discussing pair wise, then within a group of 4-5 and then presenting the ideas to open discussion and prioritizing.

Retro wall with action points.

After you have participated a retro on a bus, you will succeed in a retro everywhere! I wonder where our next company retro will take place?

“I wonder where our next company retro will take place?”

Now it’s about implementing the actions!

Ohto Rainio 03/23/2011

Special thanks to our succesful retro leaders: Lauri Illukka, Jouni Kröger, Henri Meltaus, Ari Metso, Tomi Tuominen, Vesa Teikari, Sebastian Vuorinen

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