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Personal Retrospectives

At Agile2012 we attended a session by Diana Larson which was a personal retrospective on your own learning and growth. It was a privilege to watch Diana, co-author of Agile Retrospectives, facilitate a retro. We loved the techniques she used, and want to share them.

Because this was a personal retrospective, Diana facilitated a largish group of about 30 people, but we split into groups of 3, so it felt pretty intimate.

First we started with a learning line, which is similar to a timeline, but instead of using sticky notes we drew a line of how our learning had been over the last year, highs and lows. After spending a few minutes drawing it, we shared in our small groups of 3.

Next we created a Venn diagram with 3 circles. We picked one aspect we wanted to focus on. For me it was focusing on running our company, Growing Agile successfully. For Sam it was continuous learning in new fields.

In the first circle we wrote words that describe ourselves as related to this focus.

In the second circle we wrote words that describe what we value.

And in the third we wrote words that describe how we learn.

Looking at the diagram we then created some simple rules for ourselves. Diana has a great description of simple rules in her slides from the talk.

In the final section we wrote down things we would like to learn about our craft in the next year on Index Cards. We then sized them as Small, Medium or Large, and rated their priority as 1, 2 or 3. Once we had done this we picked the 2 we most wanted to do and marked them with butterfly stickers. Will all this information, we each picked a single goal for the next 3 months, and agreed in our groups of 3 how we would followup with each other on these goals. We agreed to a monthly skype call in our group of 3 to see if we were on track.

It was a great session to learn how to take the retrospective framework and apply to to yourself. We know as coaches that our personal development is fundamental to our success, yet so few people share their tools for their own personal development. Thanks to Diana for sharing this great technique with us.

3 thoughts on “Personal Retrospectives”

  1. Hi Samantha,
    I’m glad you found value in the session. I want to point your readers to the source of the Venn diagram activity which I adapted from the work of Holladay and Tytel, authors of the books: “Simple Rules: A Radical Inquiry into Self” and “Radical Inquiry Journal: A Companion Tool for Simple Rules.” Both books come from the Human Systems Dynamics field of practice and are widely available, including from the HSD Institute website . For more on seeing patterns in ourselves and the larger systems in which we interact, I highly recommend engaging with HSD trainings and materials.

    I’ll be interested in hearing how your group check-ins and personal actions shift your perspectives and experiences over the next year. 🙂


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