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    Pitfalls & Possibilities

    August 17th, 2016

    This is a simple construct for having potentially difficult conversations about what went wrong and deciding on a plan going forward.

    1. Start with a Lean Coffee format to gather the topics of conversation.

    2. As the group discusses each item, capture the pitfalls and possibilities on the board using a a two column chart with horizontal line having double arrows to signify looking back and looking forward. Label the first column PITFALLS and the second POSSIBILITIES.

    3. End with Action Items on a matrix to the right of Possibilities labeled PLAN.

    PPP.jpg (53 KB)

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    4 L’s

    October 25th, 2015

    I’ve riffed on retrospective exercise developed by Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman. That exercise uses 4 L’s in a quadrant format. The quadrants are labeled Liked, Lacked, Longed For, and Learned.

    I use 3 columns, Liked, Lacked and Learned. Then after the team has filled in those columns generally as a shout out exercise, I draw a line under them and ask, “So what are we going to Leverage from today? What commitment can we make to take what we discovered today in order to make tomorrow better?”

    It’s working well for me!

    A Retrospective Game

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    More Meaningful Stories

    July 6th, 2015

    This idea originates with Thiagi’s exercise “More Interesting”

    1. Divide group into at least 3 groups of 3 or more participants.
    2. Each person writes a basic story on one side of an index card
    3. Place a 4 digit identifier in upper corner (phone, extension, SS#, b-day)
    4. Each group passes all cards to next group
    5. Members in the 2nd group takes a card and rewrites the story on a new blank card to make it “more meaningful” adding details & acceptance criteria, their own 4 digit code, and paper clipping the two cards together, face to face
    6. Passes to next group who scores each card sharing 100 points, i.e. 60/40, 90/10
    7. Return cards to first group and to original author
    8. Review cards silently, then debrief.
    • What was interesting about this?
    • Do you agree with the scoring?
    • How might you use these insights?
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    Card in a Sealed Envelope

    February 28th, 2014

    Timing: 1 minute prep, 2 minutes to run, 12+ minutes to debrief
    2 decks of playing cards

    This is a very old magic trick, so channel your inner magician in your performance.

    1. Give a sealed envelope to someone in the room in which you have placed a single playing card from one of the decks (number cards work better than face cards).
    2. Tell the team that they are going to use their psychic powers, collaboratively, to figure out what card is in the envelope, using the full deck.
    3. Ask one person to choose, red or black.
    4. Ask the next person to choose a suit.
    5. Ask another to choose face or number cards.
    6. Greater than or less than 5?
    7. Odds or evens?
    8. Etc. until you narrow down to one card.
    9. Have the person holding the envelope open it… voila! A match.

    The trick: Since you KNOW what the card is, if they choose black and it’s a red card, you say – okay, we’ll eliminate black. If they choose hearts and your card is a heart, you say we’ll keep hearts. etc…. except not quite so obviously. One or more of the engineers might tumble to what you’re doing as you do it, most won’t. But at the end, they’ll be dammed if they don’t focus and figure it out

    Learning Points:
    A. What did you observe?
    B. How did you feel?
    C. How does this apply to our workaday Sprint?

    The lessons are many…. let the team find them and just record on a flip chart.
    1. We manipulate our tasks and stories to get certain results,
    2. We have control if we only use it better,
    3. Our choices matter,
    4. Knowing the acceptance criteria makes a difference, etc.

    Thiagi uses this trick as one of his Jolts. See:

    (I’ve also sadly seen an unscrupulous attorney use this same trick to successfully sway jury opinion.)

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