Dec 18, 2011

Values Driven Retrospective

"Values-driven leadership realizes its full potential when espoused values are embodied by leadership and embraced by the entire organization. This allows for an authentic and sustainable business culture to emerge." -Center for Values-Driven Leadership

I recently developed a highly visible measurement of how the team is living it's Agile values to ensure we sustain and improve.  We used this as part of our monthly department wide Retrospective to ensure we remain value driven.  It also serves as a highly visible reference to reflect on our actions and commitments throughout the day.
Agile Team Values Gauge

To continuously improve your team and your work through value-driven Retrospectives.

You need to have defined values that the teams have committed to prior. We use the Agile values of Commitment, Openness, Focus, Respect, and Courage (See Code of Ethics) .

We do this every monthly staff meeting during a part of the meeting we call the Retrospective, where we discuss how we are progressing as a team. You can do this during any regular meeting or during your Scrum Retrospective.

  1. The facilitator provides a quick overview of the team values.
  2. The facilitator takes a value, and asks the team, to get an initial pulse, "How do you feel we are doing in value x". The facilitator asks the team to rate the value from one to five, using the Fists-to-Five consensus technique.  Make sure to try to get the team to vote all at once, since, some members may be unconsciously influenced by another's vote.  You could also use Planning Poker instead of  Fists-to-Five to gain consensus.
  3. The facilitator polls the the group if there is a significant variation in the votes. For example, she might ask, "For the '5's', Why did you vote 5? For the '2's', why did you vote 2?". Allow a short time for discussion, but not too much. Keep it to about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Now that the team has a deeper understanding of others perspectives, ask the team to vote again on the value using the  Fists-to-Five. Ask the team to commit to a number from the second round. If there is a significant divide, such as half 4's and half 5's, I take the lower number.
  5. Change the dial on the Value Gauge Card to the number agreed to.
  6. Do this for each value.
  7. Once you are done each value, ask the team: "Which value do we want to improve on until our next meeting?". Gain commitment from the team through discussion and visual vote, such as  Fists-to-Five or thumbs up/thumbs down.
  8. Ask the team "What is the one thing we can do to improve living this value?". Stress that it is just one thing, since this brings focus and increases success of the improvement, rather than tackling too much and failing.
  9. Allow the team to discuss. Gain consensus and commitment to what the team will do to improve by the next Retrospective/meeting. Phrase the commitment into a Believe Statement: The Believe Statement format is: We Believe in [insert value], therefore we will [insert what we do] .  For example, our team's "Believe Statement" was "We Believe in Courage, therefore we will have a team building get together so we can establish a safer environment to be courageous with one another. "
  10. Write the Believe Statement and post it in a visible place for the team.  I prefer placing the Believe Statement on to the Value Gauge Card so it reminds us of our current status and that we are doing something specifically to improve it. It is also handy so that you do not forget to review your results in your next Retrospective.
  11. Review your Believe Statement/Goal and the results the next meeting and then repeat the process.
360 Degree Leadership Feedback
After we completed this as a Team, I quickly went through it and asked the team if I, as the Director, was creating an environment that fostered these values. We went through the same process of rating and creating a one Believe Value Statement Goal.  This allowed some great feedback for how I can improve for the team and also provided a great example to foster, in what the book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" calls, Vulnerable Based Trust.

Apply it in the Classroom with Students
You could easily use this in the classroom with students, as, well. Many schools use the 6 pillars of Character  for character education which could work very well in a Classroom Retrospective. A future post, perhaps.

My team really enjoyed the Agile Team Values Gauge game. It brought some issues to light, but, more importantly, what we were doing really well.  As we go through several iterations of this retrospective, it might be useful to have a chart plotting our progress over time.

Please try it with your teams and let me know your results and your modifications to it. I think you will find that participants will appreciate talking about their values, their integrity in living their values, and that it provides a good guide for developing Team Working Agreements and other team decisions.

John Miller
The Agile School Blog
CSM, CSPO, PMP, [insert other self important initials here...]

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