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Retrospectives facilitators gathering: key takeaway

David Horowitz

I’m fortunate enough to attend the Retrospectives Facilitators Gathering every year. This year’s Gathering took place last week in the beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts and was, as expected, a transformative experience! While there are countless learnings that I look forward to sharing with you, there was one topic we discussed that really stood out to me: how do you balance participation with facilitation when running a retrospective?

As a former agile coach, I was almost always both the facilitator and a participant in retrospectives. I’m confident it’s the friction I experienced while trying to balance these two roles that made this question really resonate with me. But what really landed was the suggestion my peers provided: creating a “Circle of Retrospective Facilitators.”

The idea of creating a “Circle of Retrospective Facilitators” had never come up in conversation I'd had with other coaches and scrum masters before, but it makes perfect sense. When you step back to think about the potential of rotating facilitators, five advantages become apparent.

  1. By facilitating another team’s retrospective, you can be impartial and dispassionate in guiding the conversation.
  2. Similar to the benefits of being a dispassionate participator in other teams’ retrospectives, you can be a more passionate and engaged participant in your team’s retrospectives.
  3. By being exposed to other teams’ practices and routines, you can improve your own facilitation skills and bring new ideas to your colleagues to continuously improve.
  4. When you think of yourself as a traveling contributor or a consultant in your organization, you realize that you’ll have a greater understanding and exposure to what’s happening across the organization. You may now be able to connect dots and draw parallels between situations and opportunities that otherwise may not have been realized. You’ll have the opportunity to draw insight from across the organization to improve the way the teams work.
  5. This exposure will also help you on a personal basis as more and more people know who you are, how you work and the value you bring to the organization. You’ll be given the opportunity to build a strong personal brand around a reputation of driving continuous improvement and engagement.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of creating a “Circle of Retrospective Facilitators.”Are you going to give it a try?Be sure to leave me a comment or tweet us at @RetriumHQ.

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