The Sandwich Retrospective

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This exercise can be used as a retrospective technique (in addition to other popular techniques as the Start-stop-continue retrospective, Starfish retrospective, Speed boat retrospective, etc.). I called it the Sandwich retrospective as it covers three different “slices of ingredients” which I believe are essential for self-reflection. These (in “sandwich terms”) are:

  • The issues (the “hunger”) we face in our organization, project, release, sprint, etc. (the “Bottom slice“);
  • The potential solutions (the “food”) we could use to address these issues (the “Middle slice“); and
  • The context (the “spices”) which might affect (strengthen or loosen) the applicability (“taste”) of these solutions (the “Top slice“). Context is important (although overlooked) and should be taken in consideration as “One Size Does Not Fit All”!

Using gamification in retrospectives brings additional benefits, including more positive, supportive and creative environment, increased motivation and engagement, improved team morale and most importantly fun and joy for everybody!

Timing
80 mins (but could be less or more depending on the number of participants). Each part of the exercise is strictly timeboxed.

Materials
Papers, pens, paperclips and timer for timeboxing. There could be small prizes for the winners (e.g. candies).

I. Set the stage (5 mins)
Split participants randomly into three teams. Give each team three sheets of paper (bind with a paperclip) and pens for writing. Let them choose a unique name (e.g. the Cherries Team, the Strawberries Team & the Blueberries Team). The name should be written on the top of the first sheet of paper (aka the Issues Sheet).

II. Gather data (20 mins)

Issues (15 mins)
Ask teams to come up with a list of issues they have faced in their organization, department, project, release, sprint, etc. These issues should be written on the Issues Sheet using the following format:

The Issues Sheet / Page 1-2
The Cherries Team
Rate # Issue Description
( ) 1. Issue 1 Description
( ) 2. Issue 2 Description

( ) N. Issue N Description

Ask teams for the number of their issues. The team with the greatest number gets +10 points, the second team +5 points and the third team (with the least number) gets no points. As teams should continue with the same number of issues, the first and the second teams should cross out their extra issues (e.g. based on their importance). If there is a tough timing for the exercise (retrospective), the teams might continue with only three or five issues.

Rates (5 mins)
Ask teams to rate the importance of the items on the Issues Sheet using the following scale: (0) Unimportant, (1) Of little importance, (2) Moderately important, (3) Important and (4) Very important. The Issues Sheet should look like:

The Issues Sheet / Page 1-2
The Cherries Team
Rate # Issue Description
( 3 ) 1. Issue 1 Description
( 2 ) 2. Issue 2 Description

( 1 ) N. Issue N Description

III. Generate insights (30 mins)

Solutions (15 mins)
Ask teams to exchange their papers and write down their names at the top of the second sheet (aka the Solutions Sheet). Each team should now propose as many solutions to the items on the Issues Sheet as possible. They should be using the following format:

The Solutions Sheet / Page 3-4
The Strawberries Team
Rate # Solution Description
( ) 1.1 Solution Description (1-st solution for Issue 1)
( ) 1.2 Solution Description (2-nd solution for Issue 1)
( ) 2.1 Solution Description (1-st solution for Issue 2)

( ) N.M Solution Description (M-th solution for Issue N)

Context (15 mins)
Ask teams to exchange their papers once again and write down their names at the top of the third sheet (aka the Context Sheet). They should go through the items on the Solutions Sheet and list as many contextual and situational factors (which might support or suppress the proposed solutions) as possible. Given below is the format which should be followed:

The Context Sheet / Page 5-6
The Blueberries Team
# Contextual Factor
1.1.1 Contextual Factor (for Solution 1.1)
1.2.1 Contextual Factor (for Solution 1.2)
2.1.1 Contextual Factor (for Solution 2.1)

N.M.K Contextual Factor (for Solution N.M)

For each situational factor described on the Context Sheet the team
gets +1 points.

IV. Evaluate (20 mins)

- Applicability (10 mins)
Bring back the papers to the teams who owned the Issues Sheet. They should rate the applicability of the proposed solutions taking into consideration the contextual / situational factors from the Context Sheet. The items should be rated using the following scale: (0) Inapplicable, (1) Somehow applicable, (2) Moderately applicable, (3) Applicable and (4) Very applicable. The Solutions Sheet should be updated to reflect these ratings as following:

The Solutions Sheet / Page 3-4
The Strawberries Team
Rate # Solution Description
( 0 ) 1.1 Solution Description (First solution for Issue 1)
( 2 ) 1.2 Solution Description (Second solution for Issue 1)
( 1 ) 2.1 Solution Description (First solution for Issue 2)

( 3 ) N.M Solution Description (M-th solution for Issue N)

Scores (10 mins)
Bring back the papers to the teams who owned the Solutions Sheet. For each proposed solution they should calculate its score by multiplying its rating for applicability (from the Solutions Sheet) with the rating for importance of its associated issue (form the Issues Sheet). Given the examples above, the Strawberries Team’s Solution 2.1 has applicability of one, while its related Issue 2 has importance of two. Then the score of Solution 2.1 is 1 x 2 = 2. Sum up the scores for all of the proposed solutions to get the points for each team.

V. Close (5 mins)
Calculate the results by summing up the points gained by each team in all rounds. Announce the winners and award the prizes.

Original article: http://www.agify.me/the-sandwich-retrospective/

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