October 11, 2019

Scrum Value Pairs Retrospective

Scrum Value Pair FocusWe recently introduced our latest retrospective technique called Scrum Value Pairs, which helps Scrum teams improve areas of their process in regards to the 5 Scrum Values. As many of you know, those 5 values are: Focus, Openness, Commitment, Courage and Respect. We have iconized the Scrum Values to support visual learning. Can you visually match the icon on the left to one of the 5 Scrum Values?

Each value has of course not a single on/off switch and comes in different flavors as every team is different.  For example a development team might show great courage in how they speak up about impediments during a retrospective but might lack courage refining the Product Backlog.  Highlighting both aspects of the Scrum value keeps the team and meeting positive, helps them to recognize their strengths, but at the same time gives them a chance to identify things to improve.

To prepare using this technique in a Sprint Retrospective is easy. Print a few sets of the value pairs that come with the download. Part of the kit are two sets, one for US Letter format, the other one being DIN A4.  Each of these sets come with 6 pages, 1 for each Scrum values (5 total) and one blank template in case someone needs more value pairs of a specific kind that moment.

How you create a list of value pairs is of course up to the facilitator and group. Working in pairs or applying a liberating structure might be a good way to get things started. Make sure that everyone is focusing on both sides of the value pair template and that the observation section of the template is being filled out. If they have a great short summary, add the title on the top of the template. If you work with teams that focus exclusively on the negatives, simply make it a rule that everyone has to fill the positive first before they can start with the negative. That ways, things are more positive and current strengths are not being ignored.

Reading out the value pairs and providing some context about the observations will then help bring the group back together. Again focus on both pairs, the positives and negatives.

Scrum Value Pair Timeline
Scrum Value Pairs with Sprint Time-Line


Then cut the value pairs in half at the dotted line and perform a modified 25/10 liberating structure as your group is probably smaller than 10 participants during a Sprint Retrospective. The idea here is to identifying the highest scoring improvement idea quickly. A simple dot voting might also do the job.

Once the order of the improvement ideas are determined it is now time to tackle them in order as time allows. Discuss actions, capture them and take the actions forward into your next Sprint Backlog.  This would also be a good moment to introduce a Lean Coffee.

During your next Sprint Retrospective, use a moment to reflect on the Scrum Value and the area of improvement and if the taken actions made a difference.

Scrum PosterIn addition to the Sprint Retrospective, this technique can also be applied after a release. If the team prefers to talk about the Scrum framework more in general, they can also use a Scrum poster to stimulate interesting conversations about the value. 

Let me know of any feedback, comments after you ran this technique yourself. Always, eager to hear back from others, but if you can, give me a positive and negative in pairs