Tree of Life – Positivity Retrospective

One of my teams has had many challenges, like:

  • changes to the team composition;
  • tight deadlines,
  • three lockdowns in the past and still working as a remote team mostly.

But despite these challenges the team does a really great job. They collaborate really well to achieve our sprint goals (and they achieved all sprint goals since last March!), they do their scrum events and strive to improve their way of working every sprint and they manage their dependencies outside the team better every sprint.

Time for a positivity retrospective! We looked back on the positive, and on how we can grow even stronger in the things we are great at.

Check in

We started with a compliments check in. I asked the team members to write the name of the person they want to give a compliment for something they did last sprint. This way we started the retrospective with a great vibe!

Check In - Compliments

Tree of Life retrospective

After that I asked the team:

  • What great ‘fruits’ did we bear in the past few sprints?
  • What things that we achieved as a team make you happy and proud?

We took a few minutes for silent writing. After discussing the fruits, we focused on the roots of the tree. We did another round of silent writing in which I asked them to write their input with these questions in mind:

  • What improvements did we make (“roots did we grow”) that helped us achieve these fruits?
  • In what helpful ways did we adjust our way of working in the past few sprints?

In the discussion that followed we focused on the most important improvements that we had made in the past few sprints, and then I asked them how we can make these roots grow even stronger. By voting we selected the most important ones. We didn’t really define actions, but put them on our sprint backlog as a reminder of our strengths for the coming sprint.

Parking Lot

The danger of a specific retrospective like this however is that team members may have something on their mind about last sprint, but don’t mention it. So I created a parking lot, that gave them the opportunity to raise other topics, too. After we finished the Tree of Life positivity retrospective we had a look at the Parking Lot and discussed the (in this case) one issue that was mentioned there.

Parking lot

Check out

After everybody had the opportunity to speak their mind, I closed the retrospective as usual by asking the team to rate the retrospective on a scale of 1 to 10, and I was happy with an average above 8 this time!

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