As I did last year, I will attempt to write a blogpost a day for the 12 days of Christmas; except this time I will pick a new topic each day. This is the blogpost for the second day of Christmas 20/21.

Today’s topic is Unicorns inspired by V_Source 🙂

This morning at brunch I was talking with my ten year old niece about what I do. She knows that I travel when it is not corona ,and that I gave a talk on stress as she found a video on youtube while searching for her family name. I tried to explain what else I do; that I help people communicate and collaborate, but it became to abstract for her.

So we moved to what I am. As I was wearing my Batman hoodie, it was obvious to her that I was at least Batwoman. I tried to tell her that I am also a unicorn, but that was too unlikely for her eventhough she gets why people think I am a unicorn with my normal turquise and pink hair. But I have no horn, so I could not be a unicorn.

I told her that I am endorsed for being a certified unicorn on Linkedin, but that was not enough, so I didn’t even bother talking about being a certified unicorn certifier. It makes you wonder, why we really have these certifications if you can’t use them when in need 😉

It is hard to discuss these things with a ten year old, who have known of unicorns all their life, as unicorns have become vastly popular the last years. Now you can find them anywhere and on everything from toiletpaper to chocolates and sprinkles for cakes. All fluffy and magical and innocent and cute. And almost always white or pink and with elements of rainbow color in one form or another.

I too find these unicorns very cute, though some are a bit too much for me, and not all appeal to me. I am fascinated by the myths, the stories, the magic – and the power of these animals. Especially the black unicorn is powerful and magical and not often seen – which is why I had another discussion with my niece about which colors, unicorns can be 🙂

You might think that unicorns are just a myth, or silly, or nothing that grown-ups should be talking about, and that is okay.
For me they matter more than just being a fascinating story.

I am not sure who first called me a unicorn, but I do recall, when I certified my first unicorns; it was the summer of 2016 in the Romanian office of Avira, where two women were spreading joy and kindness in the office. They would make people smile, they would bring small gifts and there was something magical about it. And they were standing out from the norm each in their way. So I decided to certify them as unicorns for passing the unicorn test and showing proficient unicorn behavior.

After that I have certified a few here and there; always people who are a litle bit different from the norm, and who spread joy, kindness and a little bit of magic. People who have a certain spark. Often people have not considered it before they get the certificate, but that is because unicorns, who live in a human body, forget what they are after a while. (If you are not convinced, try watching “The last Unicorn“)

Each one of them have been thrilled to be certified 🙂

Sometimes people ask be to become a certified unicorn, because they think it could be a fun thing to get, but that is not how it works. It must be earned.

Is it silly to talk about unicorns in this way?
Maybe it is. But it is also joyful and nice, and that is something that we need in our lives – some days more than others – and anyone who contributes to that deserves to be celebrated.

So yes it might be a little bit silly, but also a little bit serious. We sometimes forget that we might have a little magic inside and that this magic can be used to help people smile and enjoy life more -not just other people, but also ourselves.

Am I a unicorn? At least I try to get in touch with the powerful black unicorn I have inside. What a mighty beast it is and what a spark it gives.

When was the last time you were in touch with the magic spark you have inside? And what would happen if you would let it loose?

Blogpost for the first day of Christmas 20/21: Time for reflection
Blogpost for the third day of Christmas 20/21: Raining again
Blogpost for the fourth day of Christmas 20/21: Being or doing
Blogpost for the fifth day of Christmas 20/21: Gratefulness
Blogpost for the sixth day of Christmas 20/21: Having people in my space
Blogpost for the seventh day of Christmas 20/21: Family
Blogpost for the eight day of Christmas 20/21: Uninspiration
Blogpost for the ninth day of Christmas 20/21: Fear (and courage?)
Blogpost for the tenth day of Christmas 20/21: Jumping in puddles
Blogpost for the eleventh day of Christmas 20/21: The choice is yours
Blogpost for the twelfth day of Christmas 20/21: Anticipation

Time for reflection

Last year I was challenged to write a series of blogposts on hope for the 12 days of Christmas. To my surprise I felt that I had a lot to write about that topic. Some days the inspiration came easy, other days it took a while, and each day I found something to write about that felt right.

I was considering, if I should do something similar this year or just chill for the holidays. And I decided to go for the challenge.

I couldn’t figure out which topic to choose, so I asked on twitter for suggestions, which I got a bunch of. Sitting here this evening and trying to decide, I found it hard to choose even from those, so I decided to change my rules. I will choose a new topic each days instead. After all life is full of experiments – or at least it is more fun when it is… 🙂

For the first day of Christmas I pick “reflection” suggested by Tobias Geyer 🙂

I am good at helping others reflect and learn. It is something that I really focus on in my work and that I hope to inspire people to do more of.

Our strongest tool at work (and beyond?) is reflection followed by actions and experimenting. Yet this is not something we have a lot of time for in our busy world.

Even for retrospectives I find that many fall into the trap of “what went wrong, let’s do this” almost in one breath, which might be efficient, but not effective. It very easily becomes treatment of symptoms instead of looking at the root of the issue. I have yet to consult in a company without working on retrospectives at some point. 🙂

Taking the time to reflect in retrospectives, meetings, or any other setting may not be efficient – it takes time, but it is what we need to move, grow, and learn.

We need to take that deep breath, take a step back and look at things, consider things, feel things, and stop up long enough to see what is there instead of guessing and assuming. Then and only then can we act on what is.

And how am I doing on this myself?
I am not good at reflecting at least not on my own and not about myself. Last time I really tried was a while ago with my good friend Morgan, where I had suggested that we reflected on our own years just doing it together. Strangely enough I cannot recall if this was one or two years ago. I do remember how I felt.

Morgan asked “Why would you like to reflect?” and that triggered a lot inside: much sadness, frustration and feeling helpless and very small. I broke a little and cried a lot. This happens sometimes and for once, I was lucky enough to be with someone and not just someone. A friend where I am able to let all guards down and be what I am in that moment. This is a rare things for me as I almost always keep an element of control; not deliberately, but still I do. (Thank you Morgan for always being there)

So what about now? If anything this is a year to reflect, to consider what it is important in life, what is important to me, what is important to the world.

I still struggle reflecting and that is something I will work on in the new year. Not so much the reflection I think, but how to open that next layer of my emotional onion without breaking. Or maybe find someone professional, who can help me open and break in a safe setting, and get up again, put the pieces together and be stronger ,because I am embrace that new layer. I guess this counts as reflection – it is a start, and that is what I can do now.

I started this reflection post by thinking I would reflect in my last Christmas days post from last year: “What are my hopes?” and yet my writing took me elsewhere as it tends to do. My reflection on that is this:I still have the same hopes; they were not fulfilled and I still hope they will be.

What are things you want to reflect on? Or things that you are afraid to look it? What would make you feel safe enough to look at it and reflect?

Blogpost for the second day of Christmas 20/21: Unicorns
Blogpost for the third day of Christmas 20/21: Raining again
Blogpost for the fourth day of Christmas 20/21: Being or doing
Blogpost for the fifth day of Christmas 20/21: Gratefulness
Blogpost for the sixth day of Christmas 20/21: Having people in my space
Blogpost for the seventh day of Christmas 20/21: Family
Blogpost for the eight day of Christmas 20/21: Uninspiration
Blogpost for the ninth day of Christmas 20/21: Fear (and courage?)
Blogpost for the tenth day of Christmas 20/21: Jumping in puddles
Blogpost for the eleventh day of Christmas 20/21: The choice is yours
Blogpost for the twelfth day of Christmas 20/21: Anticipation

Er sexuelle krænkelser bare småting?

Sorry for the post in Danish, but it seemed the most appropiate to do in this case.

Den korte version:
Nej sexuelle krænkelser er ikke bare småting.
Vi har endeligt fået startet metoo-debatten ordentligt i Danmark og vi har muligheden for at lave tingene om.

Den lange version:
Nej sexuelle krænkelser er ikke bare småting.

Jeg var overrasket over, at der ikke skete mere i Danmark 2017, da metoo kom frem. For mig at se kom der små pip her og der, men langt det meste endte med at der kom lidt tøhø over det, der skete, men ikke megen konsekvens. Nå ja Ålen klapper folk bagi og presser folk til nøgenhed a la “du vil jo gerne være med i hulen, Mulle”, men det er da bare lidt værkstedshumor og bare for sjov.

Som jeg husker det, nåede vi ikke engang til at diskutere sexisme, kun chikanen (som er slem nok i sig selv).

Nu begynder sagerne at komme ud – de pibler nærmest ud af alle huller. Lad os få sagerne på bordet om sexchikane og sexisme (både mod mænd og kvinder) og lad os så begynde at gøre noget ved det.

Jeg har forsøgt at holde min mund på trods af mange post, som jeg har været uenige med.
Som at kvinderne bare er curlingbørn og skal tage sig sammen – det er jo ikke en rigtig krænkelse at blive taget på låret, når man ikke ønsker det.
Eller at det er synd for mændene, at ting kommer frem i offentligheden.
Eller at kvinder skal sige navnet for ellers mistænkes alle, eller at de ikke skal sige navnet for så dømmes folk uden sag.
Eller generelt have fokus på hvad kvinderne skulle have gjort eller ikke gjort.
Eller som Pia Kjærsgård, der taler om tilgivelse. Faktisk blev Frank Jensen jo tilgivet for sin slikken på halsen under fest i 2011 – men det stoppede ham ikke!
Eller, at det ikke handler om kultur, men er enkeltsager.

Ja, der er værre sager og værre overgreb end klap på låret og slik på halsen, og dem skal vi også gøre noget ved. Vi skal gøre noget ved det hele for det hele er overgreb især når den, der gør det har magt over den, som det sker for. Hvis nogen rører ved dig uden, at du ønsker det, så er det et overgreb.

Ja det ville være rart, hvis alle bare sagde fra. Det ville være endnu bedre, hvis de ikke behøvede at sige fra. Eller hvis omgivelserne også sagde fra.
Ja det er irriterende, at der er så meget fokus på krænkelserne – men det er bare fordi vi ikke har talt om dem før!!

Ja enkeltindivider er ansvarlige for deres handlinger. Og den kultur, der har hersket og stadigt hersker mange steder gør, at de har syntes, at de her handlinger har været okay. Som Frank Jensen siger “jeg er jo et varmt menneske”.

Det kan godt være, at de sager vi ser i offentligheden nu skulle være bragt frem tidligere, men det blev de ikke. Vi ved ikke hvorfor, men en grund kan være frygten for konsekvensen for den, der anmelder tingene såsom at blive fyret.

Det er bemærkelsesværdigt, at når en sag kommer frem om en person, så kommer der flere til fordi der nu er flere, der tør stå frem. Jeg har set det samme ske i internt i virksomheder, hvor folk nu står frem fordi de finder ud af, at de ikke er den eneste. Fordi de nu kan se, at de ikke selv har gjort noget galt.

Jeg har selv haft en stalker, og det tog meget arbejde for mig at se, at det ikke var mig, der var skyld i, at han stalkede mig, overvågede min lejlighed og satte hjerter i opgangen. Det krævede både psykologbehandling, og en leder, der sagde “Der er 800 mænd på denne arbejdsplads, og 1, der ikke kan finde ud af, at du bare er venlig. Du er ikke problemet“.

…Og ti år efter, da jeg så ham i biografen, dukkede angsten op igen. Jeg var endda heldig, at der ikke skete noget fysisk.

Da jeg blev gramset på brysterne af en fremmed på et diskotek pandede jeg ham en, men det er ikke alle der reagerer sådan.

Det triste er, at for hver af de her sager er der masser af sager, vi ikke hører. Masser af folk, der ikke tør stå frem, fordi de frygter konsekvensen. Vi ser bare toppen af isbjerget og der er rigtigt meget under overfladen. Hvis man får opbygget tilliden og lytter, så kommer historierne, men det er svært at vide hvem man kan stole på.

Vi har brug for en ordentlig kultur på vores arbejdspladser, vores foreninger, vores liv.
Kultur er ikke bare de fine ord vi taler om og de ting vi siger højt. Kultur er summen af vores handlinger – og de handlinger vi accepterer, som når vi ikke griber ind, når vi ser noget er galt. Det er jo bare værkstedshumør, for sjov, en flirt…. Nej det er det ikke altid. Nogle gange er det truende.

Kultur er også det der accepteres, som i dette tilfælde at mænd truer og bruger magt og ikke kan styre sine hænder – og at det dysses ned eller ikke kommer frem.
Jeg er enig i at folk er personligt ansvarlige, men hvis ingen siger fra i omgivelserne, så bliver de ikke nødt til at tage det her ansvar.

Jeg er sjældent enig med Reimer Bo, men jeg er meget enig i denne artikel: Det er ikke kun ofrene, der skal sige fra. Det er alle os andre. Og tør vi det?

Så et interessant interview med Ritt Bjerregård, der sagde, at sådan har det altid været. At man hurtigt lærte hvem man skulle holde afstand til, men at de til gengæld ikke overvejede at det var noget, der kunne ændres.
Vi gamle har levet med, at sådan var det, og sådan gjorde mænd. Det gjaldt om at vide, hvem der var ude på noget, og hvornår man skulle holde sig for sig selv. Men vi anså det ikke for muligt, at det var noget, vi kunne lave om på, siger hun.

Det er noget, der kan ændres, men det kræver mere end at kvinder siger fra.
Det handler om magt og at vi har tilladt den magt at blive brugt forkert (og ikke kun i politik). At det er magt kan man også se på at omkring halvdelen af sexchikanesager i HK anmeldes af mænd.

Vi har nu muligheden for at lave det om!!!!

Vi kan starte med at få tingene frem i lyset og behandle enkeltsager, men vi bliver nødt til at tage næste skridt.

Vi bliver nødt til at tage diskussion om hvad det er i vores kultur, der gør, at vi har accepteret de her ting. Der gør, at folk tror, at det er okay at begå de her overgreb, og at ofrene tror, at det ikke er okay at tale om. Det, der gør, at ofrene ikke siger fra, men i stedet tænker “hvad har jeg gjort forkert?”. Det, der gør, at teenagepiger taler om hvornår de fik deres første dickpic og ikke om de har fået et.

Der er mange mange flere ting der er en del af puslespillet

Og det kommer til at gøre ondt at lave om på tingene. Vi bliver nødt til at se indad, vi bliver nødt til at erkende vores ansvar, og vi bliver nødt til at ændre ting. Men det er den eneste mulighed vi har.

Hvis vi ikke gør noget, hvem gør så?

Doing scavenger hunt remotely

As part of a kick-off at a client, I decided to try out a remote scavenger hunt. I was not sure that it would work, but not only did it work, it exceeded all my expectations 🙂


The leaders of the product-area and I were planning a three day long after-summer kickoff with the overarching theme of cross-team collaboration. We would be facilitating sessions about product, tech, and other tasks for the four teams.

Besides those we wanted a session on building connections across teams. To further build connections, we divided people into random groups across the product-area for most of the collaborative exercises.
Building connections is part of building trust, which is the foundation of collaboration and psychological safety.

From a previous kick-off in January we had gotten the feedback that people liked doing the fun exercises which had learning aspects, so we wanted to build on that success. Only this time we were doing the kick-off remote, so I had to come up with something different.

Designing the scavenger hunt

A few weeks before I started planning, I was in a Zoom meeting with retrospective facilitators, where we discussed remote facilitation among other things. We discussed how to engage people and also how to get them away from the computer.

Aino Corry said that she used “find something red” in many of her workshops, because this would usually not be something people had close to their workplace.

I liked the idea, and decided to build on it by creating a scavenger hunt with the following attributes:

  • Be fun
  • Get people away from the computer a bit
  • Collaborate to fulfill the task
  • Getting to know each other


Normally in a scavenger hunt I would have people find something particular, but as I did not know what people had in their homes, I went for five abstract things:

  • Something red
  • Something round
  • Something that smells nice
  • Something soft
  • Something with a nice sound

I divided people into groups of five using a random number generator, which did have the side effect that one group had four members from the same team, but thus is randomizing.

As we used Microsoft Teams, there was no option of break-out rooms, so I had to do a workaround.

I created a Teams meeting for each group and a spreadsheet that had the group members, links to the meetings, and the description for the task, so people only had to look in one place.

Each person had to find one thing from the list, and then the group had to make a story that contained all five items and the names of the group members. It could be a true story or they could make something up.
I added the story for them to collaborate as they had no option of finding things together.

They had 45 min including me explaining to complete the task. It was followed by a coffee break (or as we say in Sweden: fika) and then 4 mins for each team to tell the story.

So how did it go?

After the fika we met in the big Teams meeting again and it was time to tell the stories.

The first story was about a soft hippo (plush toy) that was lonely and always wanted to be a firefighter. All group members had their videos on, and the person with the hippo told the story as a feel-good bedtime story, while the others presented the props.

Another group had autogenerated a story and had the story read by a bot.

One group had the story told by Bolibompa (the children’s channel’s mascot) as he was going for a walk on his birthday. The narrator filmed as he was walking outside, so it was all seen from the dragon’s viewpoint and then he found a birthday party with five things in it.

One group even bent the rules and created a presention where each member proposed a thing that would fulfill all five requirements. Like one had a picture of himself in a red t-shirt and red guitar- he was soft, smelled nice, red, and had a nice sound but alas he was not round.

I was so amazed by the creativity not only in stories, but also in how they presented them.  With the limited time that people had, I had not expected such great stories 🙂
And they were very funny. One of the other leaders later said that it was good that they were muted as they laughed out loud several times.

Some groups had everyone presenting with video on, some had one presenter and everyone video on, some had presentation and no video, so a lot of variations, which I think is good. In a setting where many are in a remote meeting, not all feel comfortable speaking up or having the video on. This way each group chose what worked for them.

The spontaneous feedback was that it was fun and a good framing for them to talk about something different than work.
Later several people said that this was the best part of the kickoff days 🙂

More importantly: people build connections that will be helpful when they work together next time or they have a problem. It is much easier to go to someone you know than to a stranger.

Psychological safety and mental health in times of crisis

On the 13th of May I did a talk online. This post is about the talk, some questions, and resources that came out of it. If you want to read about the thougths and emotions before and after the talk, there will be another post later.

You can see the talk here.

The forum was Agile Testing Days US, the topic was “Psychological safety and mental health in times of crisis” and the idea was to start out with a talk and leave plenty of time for questions.

Despite having a lot of time for questions, I did not make it through all, so the first thing I will do in this post is to answer the remaining ones:

Answers to remaining questions

What is the first step to bring the topic of Psychological safety to the team that is never heard of this?
I find that a good first step is to start talking about it. Maybe say “I heard about something called psychological safety in a webinar and found it really interesting, let’s have a talk about it?”.
In general, I think this is a good way of introducing many things. Sometimes people tend to come home with fresh ideas and want to change a lot of things and the rest of the team can feel defensive. A way to mitigate that is just talk about it, and why you found this interesting. The why is essential no matter what we do.
If they then show interest, you can consider showing them Amy Edmonson’s TEDx talk; I find that is a good introduction.

Any suggestions on ways to support colleges that you know are struggling during this time? 
Show people that you care; tell them that if they need to talk, you are willing to listen. If it feels aqward to have tell them that, you can choose to just invite them for a remote coffee 1-1. A lot of the things we can see and do in the office are hard to do remote, but I find that it still works to have small conversations over coffee.
Maybe introduce a “how are you?” question in the dailies so you start discussing things like that in the team. Maybe share if you are not feeling well; take that first step to vulnerability that helps other feel safer in showing theirs.
Genuinely care for people and ask how they are, what you can do to help.

So, if it’s okay to not say something or to not feel safe enough to say something, how do we deal with others trying to engage us when we choose not to speak up?
When I work with the right to pass or not to speak up in teams, it is an agreement. When I do it in workshop, these are rules that I state in the beginning.
The way I use it, people say “pass” if they have nothing they want to share. As a facilitator I remind people “it is okay to pass”. This works because we have an agreement.
If your team does not already have this agreement, you can do one of two things: you can have a proactive approach and bring it up with the team, so that you can add it to the team agreements. Or the reactive approach is to say “I prefer not to share”.

The hard part can be if you don’t have a place that is psychologically safe, then people might not respect this. So sadly, you cannot assume that this is the case. If your environment is unsafe it takes work to get to a point where not sharing is okay, and there may be a lot of other things that need to be in order first.

How to do you deal with psychological safety with people with mental issues? Not everybody has a good mental health.
I believe that psychological safety is just as relevant if you have a mental problem as if you don’t.
Those two are not connected. People with poor mental health will have some things they need to feel safe, just as people in good mental health will have some things they need. They may be the same or they may not. It is very individual.
Whenever you start working on psychological safety in an organization or a team, one of the things that needs to be found out is what makes that group feel safe. There are some general things that you can work on, and then the rest is individual. It requires building of trust and having those difficult and open conversations.

So many good questions and these were just then ones I did not have time for.

Tips and tricks from the audience

As I was focused on speaking and I knew that people from ATD was keeping an eye on it, I did not look at the chat during my talk. Afterwards I started reading it and was pleasantly surprised to see how many tips and tricks people shared with each other, so I decided to share some of them here as well:

* Jackbox Games
* Some Good News SGN

Make headspace
* Limit intake of news.
* Work in the garden and talk to frogs

Work tips
*Schedule meetings to 45 minutes instead of an hour. That gives everyone a breathing space in between meetings.
* Talk in the team and with team leader about personal limits
* Video or no video; limit number of meetings a day.
* Try apologising for working in people’s homes to help them get around the feeling of needing to apologise for their kids or pets being “noisy” etc.
* Allocate time for water cooler chats and everyone can join that meeting.
*Use happiness Histogram which helps turn the mood/feeling into data and you can watch the trend over time to see where things triggered feelings or when you need to support people.

*To those interested in public speaking: read “Confessions of a public speaker” by Scott Berkun
* has good stuff  related to how psychological safety is a prerequisite to team success.

As you can see there were many good tips and tricks 🙂

Another thing that I noticed from the chat was how many people recognized what I was talking about and thereby felt less alone. Even if that is all that comes out of my talk, I consider it a success.

You are not alone; others feel this way too. Some feel different, and that is also okay.

Be kind to yourself and to others, and stay safe.

Retrospectives are boring and useless – or are they?

Way to often I hear people saying that retrospectives are useless, boring, take to long; ”Why spend an hour sitting in a circle and discussing, when we can do some coding instead?” ” It doesn’t make any difference anyway”, ”We take about the same stuff time after time after time” etc. etc.

My experience is that if this is your experience, your retrospective is not done right – do it right and get some value from it 🙂

It is very easy to have a meeting with no result; well maybe the team complain, they vent, or talk a bit and then back to work. Next week they come back and nothing changes.

If this is how your retrospective is, no wonder you don’t see the value of retrospectives. And that makes me sad.

You see: I love retrospectives 🙂

It is my favourite tool, no matter if we do agile, waterfall, or anything else. It is even valuable to use in our private lives.

Where else do we have the opportunity to take the step back and look at what we have done? The retrospective is where the team have the opportunity to dive into the process and look at things that work, and things that need to change. And not least: do something actively about it.

Abraham Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  and that is what a retrospective is about. Our axes in the IT world are our brains and our process. We need to stop up, so we can reflect and improve; sharpen our “axes”.

My experience is that if we don’t have a meeting to sharpen our axes, it rarely or never happens. We have really good intentions, but then everyday work happens.

The purpose of the retrospective is just that: to take the time to reflect. We look at what worked, what didn’t work for us, and which kind of experiments we want to try.

There are some bare minimums for a retro to be effective:

  • There needs to be a structure
  • You need to have focus on the process
  • You need to leave with action points that you follow up on next retrospective.

It is not a meeting where you:

  • Complain
    • Though venting can be helpful sometimes.
  • Focus on who is to blame

So “how do I structure a good retrospective?” you may ask.

I am so glad you asked; just keep reading 🙂

How to run a good retrospective?

As I already say: I love retrospectives 🙂

And especially when working in an agile way.

A lot of people have heard me ask “What is the single most important thing in agile?” either in my talks or when I coach them.

The answer is of course: ”Inspect and adapt”.

Let’s jump right into it:

Make sure you book room and time in your calendars to have retrospectives, or it won’t happen. People have lots of good intentions about stopping and think about improvements in their daily life. Sadly my experience is that it almost never happens.

There are many other things that can help you make good retrospectives and many different aspects of having one. In this post, I will focus on process and structure.

There are some things that need to be there for a retrospective to be effective:

  • Have focus on the process
  • Structure the meeting
  • End up with action points (and follow up next time you meet)

The Process

It is important that a retrospective focuses on the process. The purpose is to improve your process and learn from what happened from good things and problems.

It is very easy to forget this and to start discussing who is at fault. It is not about the person, it is about the process that you use.

I personally use the Prime Directive to set the stage from the beginning. It has been around for a long time and continues to provide value.

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.” Norm Kerth

It is also important to focus on process when looking at action points at the end of the retrospective.

Structure and Action Points

No matter how I facilitate the retrospective, I almost always use a structure from the book “Agile Retrospectives” by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby

It is a really good structure:

  1. Set the stage
  2. Gather data
  3. Generate insight
  4. Decide what to do
  5. Close the retrospective

Or put in other terms:

  1. Getting ready to go.
    The most important is to ensure that everyone knows
    • What the topic of today is
    • What the time frame is that will be discussed
    • Any particular focus if it exists
    • Who is participating
    • What the status of the actions points from last time are
  2. Looking at the information at hand.
    What happened since last time? It is important to be as objective as possible. Use whatever artefact that have been created, (in scrum it could be the burn down chart, in kanban a picture of the board every day, etc.); remember the good stuff as well 🙂
  3. Learn from it.
    This stage is about finding the significance of the data, you have gathered. Do you see any patterns? Are some things connected? Are the things within your sphere of influence?
  4. Choosing what to do until next time.
    Which experiments can you do to solve a problem, to make sure you keep doing good stuff, or just to try something new?
    Choose maximum 2-3 action points for next time. It is important that each action point is very concrete, and that there is an anchor-person for each point (this person is either the one doing the action, or the one reminding the team what they agreed on).
  5. Last point is about getting ready to leave.
    Look at the retrospective;
    • Did it work?
    • Do you need to do something different next time?
    • Does everyone know what they agreed on?
    • Does everyone know what they need to do?

The picture below shows the structure. Perform the five steps, incorporate the new experiments, and after the iteration, you have a new retrospective.

And then what?

Other stuff that can add value:

  • Have an external facilitator; it can be someone from the outside or someone from another team
  • Make sure there is room for everyone to reflect and to speak
  • Create safety for people to speak up
  • Have different kinds of retrospectives
  • Having different people in the retrospectives like other teams that  you work with.

If you follow the structure, have focus on the process, and create action points every time, you are well on your way.

There are plenty of tools out there that can be helpful in each step, and a lot of them are even available for free.

I also have really good experience with asking for help; many experienced facilitators, including myself, are willing to answer questions on twitter and email.

Good luck on improving your retrospectives – you can do it 🙂

I first wrote this blog post for QED in 2014 in Danish and then in English for Skills Matter in 2019

What are my hopes?

So it is the twelfth day of Christmas and time for my last post on hope.

It has been an interesting challenge and I am surprised that I was able to write 12 posts on hope as this is not a topic that I think about or talk about where often. Thanks Ed for the challenge.

So what are my hopes? That is a good question.

I hope that this will be the year, where I finally move properly to Stockholm.  I hope that I can find enough work here to live of it, so I don’t have to travel as much. I will still travel for conferences 🙂
I hope I will get better at selling my workshops. I hope that I will get better at having a balanced life and put resting into my daily routines. I hope I will find ways to gain energy.

I hope that my work and my conference talks will help people. I hope that leadership will start changing in more companies as we move towards leading people and not managing resources. I hope that more people will feel comfortable in their skin and know that they are okay just because of who they are. I hope that our workplaces will be more human and allow us to be humans. I hope that more people think about ethics in their work

I hope that the world will become a place of love, acceptance, respect, and tolerance. Where you can love who you want (provided there is consent and it is adults) – love is damn hard to find, so lets celebrate it. Where race and ethnicity are just another aspect of who we are, and not something that decides how we are treated. Where religion is people’s own business and we respect that.

Some of these hopes will be hard to fulfil, but not impossible. When I asked the people in my friend’s house “what do you think of when I say hope?”, the young man from day 3 said “hope creates opportunities” and that is so true.

When we have the hope, we also create opportunities for that hope to happen. We start looking for things that will help us, for signs that things are already happening, and we start taking steps towards these hopes. Maybe we even speak our hopes out loud. My friend Lena said yesterday that some of her good stuff only happened because she said her hopes out loud.

So with this last post on hope, I wish you well and that your hopes come true.

You are perfect with all your imperfections and you can do so much more than you think ❤️

Creating a space for hope

Eleventh day of Christmas and second to last blog on hope.
I felt really frustrated yesterday as I was pulling a blank on topics. I have struggled a bit the other days, but as soon as I found a headline, the words would just flow out of my hands…

The topic of today was suggested by my friend Arlene; we are both in a slack group, where one of our most important channels is called “Brag and appreciate”, so we can practice speaking up about the things that we do. Another is “Whining and ranting” where we can vent and get support, when we feel down. Each serves it’s own purpose 🙂

Yesterday when I was frustrated about my lack of inspiration, Arlene said, “…you holding a safe space gives hope.” and referred to one of the times, where I shared a story in the brag channel a while ago.

The story was about one of my 1-1 conversations. When I start up with a new team, I always start out with a 1-1 conversation with each team member; the main purpose is to create connection, so they feel comfortable with me – that enables me to help them better. I ask them about their background and what they think I can do for them and for the team – and that is the basically it. They can ask me whatever they want, and then we see where it goes. These conversations have lasted between 10 minutes and three hours over the course of the 4-5 years I have been doing them. The majority are short, and then sometimes there is much to be said… Or maybe the thing is that there is much to be heard. Some continue with 1-1s while I work with the team, and other just have the one. And both is good.

The brag was about how baffled I still become, when people, I have just met, show immense trust and tell me quite personal and sensitive stuff. This was after a quite emotional and sensitive talk.

The thing is that I listen and care. That is mainly what I do. It does not sound like much, but it is to some people. They may rarely have someone, who gives them their full attention and just listen to them. At least my experience is that when I listen, people speak. I hold a space, where the person can safely talk even about things that are uncomfortable.

I had to ponder a bit about how that gives hope; I guess it is because people find that space, where they are okay, where they can talk about anything, where they can be.  And when they are listened to, they see hope. Hope that they can be helped, that they can help themselves – or just hope that everything will be okay. I am actually not sure, and I never considered that I created hope; in retrospect I do see the hope in people, when I create a space. Then it does not matter what kind of hope it is.

You may also create hope for people without knowing it.

Running out of hope

It is the tenth day of Christmas and I am running out of hope. I mean topics; I am really struggling to find something today.

I can’t really run out of hope because I do not have hope for many things…

Well I hope I don’t panic tonight when I fly back to Stockholm – so much wind…

And that will be all for today. Since I lack inspiration, I will let it be, and hope for a better result for tomorrow. It feels like cheating, even if Daniel says that it is about taking care of myself. So I better do that.

The sound of hope

Ninth day of Christmas, ninth blog post.

I was struggling with finding a topic for today and asked Daniel again.

I found the suggestions that he came with somewhat silly, like “what does hope taste like or sound like?”

And then I started thinking. Does hope have a sound?

No it doesn’t; it has many sounds.

The sound of the phone ringing when you are expecting a phone call from a loved one, and hoping it is them calling.  The sound of the ring tone, when you are calling and hoping the one in the other end will pick up – or maybe not pick up if you are scared of the call. The sound of a slot machine, when you are hoping for the big win. The sound of a key in the door; of footsteps, laughter… They can all be sounds of hope.

What does hope sound like to you?