Refresh your retro with a liberating structure.

Agile gives you twelve principles and four core values. Scrum adds a framework, but conciously leaves room for additional practices. How to hold a retrospective is entirely up to the team. Liberating structures are a great way to change things up. Even sailboats can get a boring after a while. A nice thing about liberating structures is that you can string them together so one structure provides input for the next. Like this for example:

#1 - 1-2-4-All

At the start of the retrospective, employ 1-2-4-All to gather ideas. Use a suitable core question for gathering input. For instance ‘how can we deliver more value?’. In the final phase of gathering ‘All’ ideas, write them on index cards for the next phase.

#2 - 25/10 Crowd Sourcing

With the index cards ready, run a 25/10 Crowd Sourcing structure. Basically, attendees vote on ideas. With these scores, the most important ideas to the group can surface by ordering the index cards with the total vote score. Agree beforehand to address the top x ideas; three or five for instance.

#3 - What, So What, Now What? W³

The What, So What, Now What? W³ structure provides a way to dive deeper into the selected ideas. In the words of the Liberating Structures website:

After a shared experience, ask, “WHAT? What happened? What did you notice, what facts or observations stood out?” Then, after all the salient observations have been collected, ask, “SO WHAT? Why is that important? What patterns or conclusions are emerging? What hypotheses can you make?” Then, after the sense making is over, ask, “NOW WHAT? What actions make sense?”

This is the part where we connect observations with actions to take, experiments that can be run.

#4 - BONUS: 15% solutions

On many occassion, we can feel like we’re not in control. This is totally true. Life for a large part consists of things we can’t control. However, there’s always something we can do. When ideas arise that appear out the groups control or circle of influence, 15% solutions is a great structure for focussing on what options are available.

In closing

There are many, many options available. The chain above is but a simple example. Dive into the available structures to taylor a string of Liberating structures that suit your needs. Above all: have fun!