If your team is looking to make your retrospectives more thoughtful and productive, try starting the event with a minute to introspect. I sometimes start a retro with the Retrospective Prime Directive which states:
“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
This helps to create a safe place for those in the room and encourages team members to be more open during the discussion.
Similarly, allowing individuals to relax and be more mindful can be just as helpful. Let’s face it, these days, we all can use a stress reliever. Small amounts of meditation have been shown reduce anxiety, promote creativity, and increase focus.
So, the next time your team gets together for a retrospective, consider an attention training exercise. Try leading them through a short mindful meditation.
This might feel a little awkward at first so be sure to acknowledge that.
1- Let everyone know that this will just take 60 seconds and that it will help everyone to be more thoughtful and focused.
2- Share a timer and ask everyone to focus on their breath for 60 seconds.
3- Let them know that this is not as easy as it seems and that it’s common to get distracted. If this happens, all they need to do is bring their attention back to their breathing.
5- After the 60 seconds are up, ask if anyone would like to share their experience.
This might not be for everyone, but it only takes 60 seconds to try it and may help. Who knows, it might just become a “go to” tool for the team to improve their focus.