The first retrospective in my retrospective challenge for 2020 is the This team / That team retrospective. This This team / That team retrospective was hosted for a larger project group, and the reason we did this retrospective was to focus on desired behaviour inside the project, and how to change unwanted or unpleasant behaviour into desired behaviour.

Overview

This retrospective form can best be explained by the catchphrase of this retrospective. “Don’t be this team, be that team!”. You need to split a whiteboard in 2 big columns, and write “this team” on top of the first, and “that team” on the second column.

This team / That team retrospective

The group needs to come op with things they would like to see in a team, and put that in the “that team” column, and all reasons why a team is not easy to work with, can be put in the “this team” column. Ask the group to go back to all teams they worked with in the past, and what made some teams awesome to work with, and some teams difficult.

The power of this retrospective is the positive aspect. For every “negative” thing someone puts on the board, you as the host can bend it into something positive. “So you would say X is something that would make this team unpleasant to work with, what would be the positive counterpart to make this team pleasant to work with?“. An example of this is, that one might not like to work with an extremely reactive team. and will create a post on the other column with “pro-active”.

When there are no further post-its to put on the whiteboard, it is time for action points. The focus on the action points will be “What things can we do the next iteration to be more That team?”.

This retrospective can also be executed in several other forms, one example is “this guy / that guy”.

Pros

This retrospective is great in making it a positive experience, if the group has a negative outlook on the last iteration or period, you can turn it around to how they would like to see it in the future. Especially for some group members that don’t have a positive outlook, this retrospective is a good fit. In summary the positive points are:

  • Great for having an positive experience
  • Good to address communication and behaviour type improvements
  • Is not per say focussed on the last iteration, so can be used in other contexts

Cons

In terms of getting really clear action points this retrospective is a bit more difficult. My experience is that a lot of these action points will be in the communication or attitude area, and less focussed on tech stuff. In my experience the action points will most often look like:

  • Acknowledge good behaviour
  • Be a good example, start with X behaviour

Which can make it more difficult in the next iteration to check of all action points, as there are no real acceptance criteria. I would advise to discuss the action points in the next retrospective, and let the team decide if they where executed to a level where the team is content with.

Conclusion

The This team / That team retrospective is a good fit if you want to focus on the positive, and feel like there are some opportunities in communication and attitude. If you need solid action points you can check off, this might not be the best fit.

What do you think of the This team / That team retrospective, and would you use it? Let me know in the comments.