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Pedro Lopez
Pedro Lopez

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The COVID-19 Retrospective


In an attempt to lighten the mood a bit during this difficult time, I put together a new retrospective technique inspired by the latest developments on COVID-19 and what we know about how to fight it. Keep reading if you want to know more.

Like in previous posts, I use miro as a virtual whiteboard. This is now more important than ever given the lockdown restrictions in most countries around the world, so chances are that your team is working fully remotely at the minute.

Set the stage

Divide the board in 6 sections like in the image below.


Consider adding an ice-breaker as well to warm things up.

Gather data (10 min)

Give participants 7 minutes to write down their thoughts on virtual post-it notes in the five sections allocated for it. The 6th one is just for the facilitator to take notes.

  • What are our biggest challenges? Like with Coronavirus, teams face difficult challenges that need to be explicitely called out and discussed to ensure alignment and enable continuous improvement.
  • What are our main pain points? Like staying at home for a few weeks to fight a virus that spreads easily, teams suffer from technical debt, processes that require more than they should or organisational issues that get in the way. Use this section to write down all those things that are keeping you awake at night. Note that this section differs from the one above in that challenges are things we need to achieve in order to move forward, whereas pain points are typically a consequence of past decisions or contextual circumstances, but based on things that have happened already.
  • What quick wins will make us succeed? Small things like washing your hands can have a huge impact if done right. Think of all the short term things you can do now that will take you closer to your long term goals further down the line. Focus on low hanging fruits here.
  • What will make us succeed in the long run? For what we know, even at record breaking speed, a vaccine for Coronavirus is not likely to be available for at least another 18 months. Yet, we need to start working on it now because it's the right thing to do and it will had the biggest long term impact. Similarly, what things does your team need to start working on now that will pay off in a few months.
  • What should we avoid? At the moment, you should only travel if your journey is absolutely essential. Anything else will mean you are increasing the risk of spreading the virus and affecting key workers like healthcare professionals, that are trying to get to their workplaces. Similarly, what things does your team need to avoid as you move forward? These are not pain points from the past, and not necessarily challenges that you know you'll have to overcome, but rather things that you know already will get in the way if they materialise. Include here risks that you are aware of.

Generate insights (30 min)

It's time to brainstorm and generate lots of ideas, but in the interest of time, filter first so that you can focus on the most relevant ones.

  • Go through the notes and cluster similar topics.
  • Give participants 5 votes each and set a 3 minute timer.
  • Start discussing from the most voted idea.
  • Ask questions to trigger conversations if they don't flow naturally e.g. why did you vote this note? what did you mean by X when you wrote it down? Is this related to a particular event that happened recently? How have you seen this apply in previous experiences? If you had unlimited resources, how would you tackle it?

Decide what to do (10 min)

For each discussion, make sure that you identify potential actions for the team to work on in the next iteration. Each action must have an owner. You can do this as you generate insights in the previous step, no need to wait.

Use some time at the end to ask people to sign up for the unassigned actions, and wrap things up by summarising the main points that were discussed as well as the final set of outcomes.

I hope this is helpful. Take care, stay safe and until next time đź‘‹

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