Go Retro!

So, in our team we’ve been doing a lot of research to make sure that both our retrospectives and stand-ups are as valuable as possible.

Part of Agile development, retros and stand-ups happen across the business, but we in SmartLanders decided to take a different approach to these meetings. In the past we have used some traditional methods – ‘Saily Boat’ (what pushed the boat along, what slowed it etc) and ‘mad/sad/glad’ (what made you mad/sad/glad), but we weren’t convinced they were giving us the richness of feedback we wanted to make really meaningful actions.


So, we tried 'Locating Strengths' Interviews followed by 'Identifying Themes' team building activities.

The idea of the exercises was to identify the strengths of the team and come up with ideas and suggestions of things we can do to work to those strengths.

The first 20 minutes was used to interview each other about the high/low points of the sprint for each individual. The interviewer then reported back to the group about emerging themes, and recorded these onto story cards.


Once we had played back the interviews, we identified loads of themes, which naturally clustered to five areas of key strengths:

  • - Design 
  • - Teamwork
  • - Delivery 
  • - Technology
  • - Coaching



We then spent time (40 minutes or so) looking at how we could build on these strength areas. Each group discussed what we could do to play to these strength area, putting suggestions forward to the larger group. This discussion highlighted loads of ideas on how we can improve and get better, things we need to keep doing more of, and things we could prevent going forward.

For example, some of the things we’ve agreed as a team to do going forward are:

  • Deployment Checklist – we could reduce the perception of ‘number of bugs’ by implementing a deployment checklist so we can make sure we’ve done everything we need to before letting our customers loose on the solution
  • Improving the quality of our Design Discussions – we’ve identified some practices we want to be more disciplined in, in order to improve the quality, and the whole team’s understanding of those designs
  • House Rules and Team Values – we want to allow open expression without fear of recrimination, so will be drawing up our house rules and values, to be applied during meetings and stand-ups. These will of course closely link into Gilmond’s overall values


As I’ve just mentioned, initiatives like this fit perfectly with Gilmond’s core values of People First and Driving Innovation – continual development is valued highly in this organisation and this is proof that it is working with teams on the floor as well as at a higher level. By giving our team the time to step back and evaluate how we are behaving and our practices, we ultimately positively affect the quality of our products. Everyone also really enjoyed the session and left feeling even more motivated and driven.  

Great work team! Great energy and involvement – I believe we’re on our way to becoming the best team in Gilmond!