So I had a career milestone today, and I’m more than a little proud. I facilitated (with a great deal of help from the fabulous Olivia Zinn) a retrospective covering what we’ve done since the last CheezCon (CheezCon being the quarterly gathering of all remote employees at our top sekrit headquarters in Lower Queen Anne, Seattle, WA for a week of collaboration, learning, and Team Fortress 2).
Technically, I facilitated a retrospective at a former employer about a year ago, and it was pretty disastrous. The key stakeholders for the product I was working left about halfway through it to take phone calls. Ouch. That’s what I get for not securing the necessary buy-in.
But today it went great. I opened the space by asking permission to perform the retrospective, I made sure everyone’s voice was heard, I did what I could to create a comfortable space for airing concerns. We did a timeline, we looked for patterns, it worked pretty well. It ran quite long though. I had severely underestimated the amount of time necessary. It went for 2 hours, and I feel like we could have gone for another hour easily.
With all that time spent doing some intensive examination, there were 10 minutes that made the entire thing worthwhile: the appreciations. It is something I read about after Olivia recommended the Agile Retrospectives book and instantly fell in love with. Basically you create an open forum in which people can voice ways in which they appreciate team members in a really simple format. E.g., “I appreciate Joe for always taking time out of his day to help me when I am confused.”
It’s powerful. The response I got from the team was amazing, sincere, deep, and elevating. I was blown away.
It resonates really deeply with me, and I think it’s because it so closely echoes something that my father taught me as I was growing up: always let people know you’re thankful for the things they do for you. I urge you to take a moment today and let someone know you appreciate them in some specific way.
The retrospective was a resounding success and for a very specific reason: I work with amazing people. We learned quite a lot, we have a bunch of action items we’re going to focus on, and we’ve got even more things to noodle over until our next “big” retrospective.