Trump, sad, glad

There are a lot suggestions for Retromat that I can’t  include. Most commonly I decline because an activity is a variation of one that’s already in – just like the following one. I thought it was a fun one (gotta keep a sense of humour in trying times …) and asked its creator Leszek Blacha to publish it here so that you, dear readers, might use it. Those of you outside of the US, anyway.

Trump, sad, glad

This is a variation of “Mad, Sad, Glad” based on a certain Mr. Trump who has a distinct way of talking. Therefore the new categories are “Total disaster”, “So sad”, and “Great (again)”.

Let us know in the comments whether you got laughs for that one. Thank you for sharing, Leszek!

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Mein rechter, rechter Platz

[English summary: Armin Schubert suggested a super nice “Set the stage” activity for Retromat that doesn’t translate well, so I present it in the original German.]

Immer wieder bekomme ich tolle Vorschläge für Retromat, die ich schweren Herzens ablehnen muss, meistens weil es bereits eine sehr ähnliche Aktivität im Retromaten gibt. Bei der folgenden Idee von Armin Schubert war der Grund, dass die Aktivität nur auf Deutsch funktioniert. Aber wozu habe ich ein Blog 😉

Hier kommt also Armins “Mein rechter, rechter Platz”: Diese Aktivität ist für den Anfang einer Retro und läuft wie folgt ab:

Die Teilnehmer sitzen im Kreis und starten mit dem bekannten Kinderreim “Mein rechter, rechter Platz ist leer, ich wünsche mir den $Name her!” mit einer entscheidenden Änderung im Text:

“Mein rechter, rechter Platz ist voll und der $Name, der ist toll!” Dann noch drei positive Eigenschaften des rechten Nachbarn und schon ist derjenige selbst dran.

Die Idee dazu ist in einer Retrospektive entstanden, weil wir einen schnellen aber positiven Einstieg gesucht haben. Das wirkte am Anfang etwas hölzern, war dann aber ein grosser Erfolg, auf dem im Nachgang immer wieder referenziert wurde.

(Falls jemand den (neuen) Kollegen rechts von sich nicht kennt, kann er gerne die anderen Anwesenden um Hilfe bitten. Hat bei uns mehrfach super funktioniert!)

Thanks for sharing with us, Armin!

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SMARTe Ziele auf deutsch

Hm, wie würdet ihr die SMARTen Ziele übersetzen? Für den deutschen Retromaten (um den sich ansonsten Patrick Zeisig hochverdient gemacht hat) habe ich es gerade folgendermaßen eingedeutscht:

  • specific = spezifisch
  • measurable = messbar
  • attainable = ausführbar
  • relevant = relevant
  • timely = mit Termin

3 davon sind ja sehr naheliegend. Auch “ausführbar” finde ich nah dran. Einzig “timely” finde ich kniffelig. “terminiert” und “Termin gebunden” fand ich beides weniger gut als “mit Termin” aber so ganz trifft es “timely” im Sinne von “zeitnah” nicht. Was meint ihr?

13 activities for retrospectives to know

25_Cause-Effect-DiagrammI like all activities in Retr-O-Mat. Of course, I do, otherwise I would not have invested the time to add them. Still, when I selected activities for the Print Edition I realized that some activities HAD to be in it and others were interchangeable.

Which are these key activities, you ask? Well, here they are:

For  Teams

Teams new to agile need to learn what to improve, what they can influence and how best to implement change:

  •  Circle of influence
    The team will be most successful if they tackle problems they can influence instead of bitching about things they cannot change
  • SMART Goals
    A concrete, measurable goal / action item has a much higher chance of being implemented than a nebulous one, that no one knows how to act on
  • Low hanging fruit
    Start with small steps. Early successes can start a virtuous cycle
  • Undercover Boss
    Changing perspective: The team’s perspective is not the only one there is. Other views are just as valid.

For Facilitators

If you’re new to facilitating retrospectives, here are methods and ideas I keep coming back to:

List of Books about Retrospectives

Recently I’ve made a list of all books about retrospectives that I’m aware of for my Retr-O-Mat newsletter. Just in case you also want to explore this topic:

My very own Retr-O-Mat Print Edition is not really book, but just in case 😉

[This blog post was scheduled to be published before the author went on vacation and is valid without signature 😉 See you guys mid-December!]

Update 2016: In the meantime I’ve written an book on the retrospectives, filled to the brim with activities and other advice to improve you retrospectives.

Lean Altbier (aka “Lean Coffee”)

Another month, another agile meetup:

This time we tried out the “Lean Coffee” approach to facilitate a discussion in the whole group about a range of topics.  As the meetup takes place in a brewpub for Düsseldorf’s typical type of beer “Altbier” we dubbed it “Lean Altbier” and it went down like this:

  • Everyone writes down topics they’d like to discuss on stickies (1 topic per sticky)
  • Stickies are collected and read out. The person who wrote it describes the topic in 1 or 2 sentences
  • We put all stickies on a cardboard menu and passed it around the table so that everyone could distribute 2 votes
  • Order the stickies according to votes
  • Start with the topic of highest interest

Originally we thought we’d just talk about each topic until the discussion dies down, but it seems that discussions rarely completely die. Just more and more people detach until only 2 or 3 keep talking. So I’ve started to set a timer and once the time is up, people give a quick thumbs up or down. Majority of thumbs up gives the topic an additional time box, thumbs down moves the discussion on to the next topic. This makes sure that the discussion stays interesting for most participants. Continue reading

Optimizing Retr-O-Mat’s Web Performance

Some of you may know that my husband Tobias is a web developer. And not just any web developer but one with a passion for web performance optimization (WPO). WPO is about loading and showing a web page as fast as possible as this has proven to increase time on site, number of clicks and sales (for webshops). Also web users perceive fast pages and their brands as more professional. In general, WPO improves the user experience.

Tobias was not particularly happy with Retr-O-Mat‘s performance. To quote him verbatim:

For the first time I’m unhappy you assumed my name

Gee thanks, honey! After all, Retr-O-Mat’s performance was average (3 seconds for complete document) not abysmal. But average is not good enough for the WPO guy’s wife, so here I sit optimizing away. And blogging about it.

The following is not a howto for WPO but a case study of the things I did. Maybe you can apply some of it to your site.

1) Removing a superfluous external script

Oops! In the header I linked an external script for Ajax calls from back when I thought I’d use PHP and JS. For a long time now I have a pure JS solution. No need for Ajax anywhere. But I’d never removed that link. Stooopid!

Measuring progress

I realized that I might be optimizing all day and started to measure. To the left is the result of for Retr-O-Mat, after removing the script-link but before any other change. We configured the test to reflect an average German DSL connection (Frankfurt, 1500Kbps, 70ms latency) with an average-speed browser (IE8).

Continue reading