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Retrospective for Scrum Masters

Last post 01:13 pm May 23, 2019 by Curtis Slough
9 replies
11:00 am May 16, 2019

Hello all,

was wondering if anyone had some tips to help me out with my dilema. The company i work for have around 13 Scrum masters scattered across multiple cities. Next week, we are all to have a meetup in one of the cities as an annual scrum master initiative to help with building tribes around scrum masteres, engineers etc. 

As someone who really likes retrospectives, i have been asked to facilitate a  kind of retrospective with all the Scrum Masters to find out how they have been getting on over the past year. Now, this has not been done before so i am not really sure how to go about it. The results will be documented on confluence as a best practice approach for the wider company so that we can say these are the things that we expect from clients to help us do our job and also highlight things that could lead to wider issues for other Scrum Masters to see and refer to as a way to solve issues. The Scrum Masters have all been working with different teams, different clients and as a result have different experiences. 

I usually like to use the Starship method for sprints but that method will not be useful. Another method i use is hills and valleys and that will not also be useful. Does anyone have ideas on how to go about this?



02:18 pm May 16, 2019

I heard from my colleague that he lately asked on retrospective to what car they would like to compare last sprint(s). The answers were e.g.:

  • it is like bicycle - moving too slow
  • it is like driving without the license, because we do not create documentation

He said that results were good, although initially didn't want to have retrospective meeting. It was, because that team is mainly working on support issues, not new development. It was normal retrospective for the team, not for scrum masters.

06:02 pm May 16, 2019

My go-to is Lean Coffee and I use a timer to help "time-box" discussions.  It promotes brainstorming, discussion and knowledge sharing.  For every "item" discussed make sure to come away with a suggested action with someone assigned to help facilitate the action. It has been useful with teams that don't like "retrospective games" as well as those that do.

Key point... my definition of "time-box" for this exercise is to limit discussion to a period of time (for example 5 minutes). At that point everyone stops, even mid-sentence, and there is an opportunity for ELMO (Enough Let's Move On) votes. If the majority feels more time is warranted for the discussion, put another increment of time on the clock. Repeat until the group feels you have talked about it enough.

Do some internet search on Lean Coffee.  You will find many information sources on it.  I admit I don't use any specific variation. I will adapt it to the people present and the reason for the retrospective.

As an aside, has anyone looked into Communities of Practice?  A Scrum Master COP might be a really good idea for you. Even if there were regional COPs that shared information across the global you would be benefiting from the combined experiences.

06:54 am May 17, 2019

I have some troubles with the term "best practices", because of the disregard to context and people. Anyway, I like that Daniel mentioned the CoP. I facilitate the SM CoP bi-weekly and regularly use Liberating Structures as a facilitation technique to evoke deeper, broader topics and discussion, compared to when just a single question would be raised. I can definitely recommend looking into this.

09:31 am May 17, 2019

The results will be documented on confluence as a best practice approach for the wider company

Let’s narrow the focus slightly. Does the company have an organizational Definition of Done which teams refer to when crafting their own?

03:14 pm May 17, 2019

Thanks everyone for the ideas. Some members of our organization use Lean coffee and it is really good. Saying "best practice" is sort of misleading. The idea is to document issues that Scrum Masters have encountered with a brief explanation of how it was resolved. We then have a weekly global SM tribe call and people can deep dive into those issues further to get a better explanation with the tribe if they are encountering those issues.

I think mybiggest fear is keeping everything under control and structured. 

Ian Mitchell, unfortunately we don't have a DOD for the org. 

08:31 am May 20, 2019

unfortunately we don't have a DOD for the org. 

This could a great opportunity for you to get into!

Have a look at the Cynefin model, too. I think it would be valuable to understand this in regards to the term "best practice".

11:44 am May 20, 2019

There always should be a scope for Retrospective: what are you looking back at? "How they have been getting on over the past year" sounds like a huge scope. There should be something - common goals, working agreements, a shared vision, something and then you can see if those are working well. If you dont have anything like that, maybe id start with creating one (like a "good-guy/bad-guy" practice, or a manifesto, like "thats who we scrum masters are") and that can serve as a base for discussions like that.


06:22 am May 21, 2019

this is SOS (scrum of scrums), do correct me if i'm wrong.

i think lean coffee is ideal. there should be no difficulty getting feedback, i'm sure you'll get a lot. i'll be more worried how to organize and use those feedback.

please do update us; i would love to hear how it goes. :)


01:13 pm May 23, 2019

I'm curious of what the Starship method is.....

As for the Scrum Master Retro, Lean Coffee works well, Pain Points, The 3 L's (obviously it wouldn't be over the last sprint but over x amount of time). 

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