Retrospective vs Psichology

I have a weekly retrospective meeting with my team. To be prepared for the meeting we fill out some kind of board with the table: 1st column for good points (i.e. “Where we succeed), the 2nd column for other points (i.e. “Where can we be better”)

I noticed that the whole team and even I don’t like to add items in the 2nd column even if you want to suggest or improve something. I see here 2 reasons:

  1. Since all positive items are in the 1st column. The 2nd column always contains non-positive and negative items. As a result, even positive improvements interpreted as negative.
  2. If you are writing something negative about any point and it always makes pain for the responsible person

The result is sad:

  • People don’t want to talk about improvements to avoid conflicts with colleagues.
  • If they are brave and add something in the 2nd column it becomes a negative background and makes stress for the writer. After a while, he will just skip writing in this column at all.

Let’s see what Psychology could say for this case:

If you want to say something about others work:  let’s share YOUR PERSONAL feelings instead of evaluations!

NO- “Your code is really bad”

YES –  “I’ll be happy if you change something in this code”

SO-SO – “I’m sad, since your code breaks our application”

Now let me share the solution I noticed from Atlassian newsletter:

It should be 3 columns:

  1. I like
  2. I wish  //to improvee existing things
  3. What if  //ideas for the future

That what we need!

  • All items are with positive background
  • All items are focused just on personal feelings instead of evaluations
  • This allows you to write ideas for  improvements

It’s great and it works! Let’s use it!