Agile,  Retrospectives

Turn Up The Good with the ”The Good, The Great, and The Amazing” Retrospective

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When teams focus on what’s not working in retrospectives, things outside their immediate control often show up. It’s great to help teams illuminate what’s holding them back, but if that’s the only thing your retrospectives are focused on they may become a drag and drain peoples energy. To help teams ”Turn up the good”  i.e. builds upon practices and elements that are good and try to make them even better I’ve created a short retro that’s based on that principle. And I’ve taken inspiration from many but particularly Woody Zuill and Marcus Hammarberg when documenting this format. 

The Good, The Great, and The Amazing

This retrospective takes 15 – 60 minutes depending on focus, length, and team size. I’ve used this exercise to help teams retrospect on specific meetings or ceremonies as well as on a teams entire process / all their ceremonies. You can also use this format to retrospect on an entire iteration and even though I outline how you could run that variation, I’ve not tried it (yet). 

How it works
Select which of the three purposes I listed above that you’re aiming for then follow the guide below. It’s good to clarify that the difference between Good, Great, and Amazing, is whatever it means to them individually. It’s totally fine if people have different definitions of good.

Material needed
Post-its and sharpies

Retrospecting on a specific meeting

    1. Ask everyone to list one thing they thought was good, one thing that was great, and one thing that was amazing about the meeting.
    2. Have the group, one by one, present their notes and ask them to elaborate on what made it good, great, or amazing.
    3. When everyone is done sharing ask the group to select two or three stickys or areas to turn up the good on.
    4. Next ask them what would make it even better (going from good to great, or great to amazing, or making sure it keeps being amazing).
    5. Based on their conversation capture actions and create small experiments. (Select small things that are quick to replicate or amplify, that the team has the energy to do)

Retrospecting on an entire process or all/many ceremonies

    1. Ask the team to visualize their process from a high-level perspective, or to list the ceremonies to reflect upon.
    2. Next ask everyone to list one thing that they think is good, one thing that’s great, and one thing that they think is amazing. One thing in total, not one thing per ceremony.
    3. One by one, have people share their notes and place them on the visualized process and ask them to elaborate what makes it good, great, or amazing.
    4. When everyone is done sharing ask the group to select two or three stickys or areas to turn up the good on.
    5. Next ask them what they’d need to make it even better (going from good to great, or great to amazing, or making sure it keeps being amazing).
    6. Based on their conversation capture actions and create small experiments. (Select small things that are quick to replicate or amplify, that the team has the energy to do)

Retrospecting on an iteration

    1. Draw a timeline and have the group list major events such as planning, vision workshops, the build server failed, we found a severe defect in production, we got a new team member or someone left, we tried a new practice etc.
    2. Ask everyone to list one thing they thought was good, one thing that was great, and one thing that was amazing during the iteration. (Tip – have everyone use the same colors on sticks for ”good things”, ”great things” and ”amazing things”.
    3. Have the group, one by one, present their notes and place them on the timeline. Ask them to elaborate on what made it good, great, or amazing.
    4. When everyone is done sharing ask the group to select two or three stickys or areas to turn up the good on.
    5. Next ask them what they’d need to make it even better (going from good to great, or great to amazing, or making sure it keeps being amazing).
    6. Based on their conversation capture actions and create small experiments. (Select small things that are quick to replicate or amplify, that the team has the energy to do)

Putting this into practice

If “Turning up the Good” is a new concept to you or your team, but you’d like to get started with it, begin with a conversation in the team about why you want to try this new format. After that select the variation that you want to try, and go! If you run this format as a part of major meetings don’t be surprised if eventually, your team starts turning up the good in everything they do, even without facilitation. I’ve found that this thinking spreads and that people get energy from making small improvements that make good things better.

If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it went for you. Comment here, drop me a Tweet, or send me an email on viktor@cessan.se.

If you’d like to get regular inspiration for new and different retrospective formats, sign-up to my newsletters and I’ll let you know whenever I release new ones.

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