What We Learned at Our 1st World Retrospective Day Retro

To mark the world’s first  “world retrospective day” we teamed up with the #play14 London team to run a retrospective on the AWA community. We hadn’t done something like this before so we were extremely excited to see how the evening would play out and discover new ways of growing and improvement. The results are interesting, probably useful for all meetup groups. Keep reading to learn more!

We did:

  • Warm up: Live Twister
  • Warm up: Sergeant Major
  • Game: Learn to Kata
  • Exercise: This guy, That guy
  • Exercise: Thinking inside the box
  • Exercise: Anti-Problem
  • Exercise: Train Kata
  • Cool down: Rain

This Guy, That Guy

Before this event, we didn’t have a code of conduct. Nothing has really happened at any of our meetups (as far as we are aware) to cause us to think “oh yeah we really need one.”  So, we used “This Guy, That Guy” to retro community culture with the aim of co-creating a code of conduct, or the beginnings of one at the very least. Elle did a fab job of facilitating 2 large boards to collect the different behaviours. The object, to think about the kind of positive behaviours and negative behaviours that community members may experience. We added positive behaviours to This Guy as in “we want to be like this guy” and negative behaviours to “That Guy” ie “we don’t want to be like that guy”. Resulting in a pretty big picture of what people felt were good and bad behaviours.

This retro is a useful way to get people to think about behaviours that help or hinder a team, without calling out specific people/times which can be very damaging to a team. In this way we can draw on experiences to create a charter of behaviours that are important.

During the data gathering exercise we reviewed the different ideas and grouped the behaviours together to build out code of conduct statements.

Here’s what we have so far.

What do you think could be added to make the kind of code of conduct you want?

Please share your thoughts for the Code of Conduct here

Thinking Inside The Box

For this exercise we wanted to find out people’s favourite and least favourite meetups so we could better understand what topics and formats are of most value to people. Thinking inside the box is an ideation technique that can be used for brainstorming and is particularly useful if a group or team is stuck on a problem. It has been proven that people are able to generate more ideas when they are given a frame or something to relate to.

For example:

Which would a person find easier to answer?

  • What’s not working well? or
  • How could our team improve their Quality?

People find answering specific (inside a box) Questions  – 4 times more effective for idea generation. During the WRD we used this technique combined with a quiet reflective writing exercise. Learn more about this technique here

One of the two types of forms we used for thinking inside the box (the other form asked “what was your least favourite meetup)

Philiy then used the 6 boxes facilitation technique to gather the data in an easy to consume format.

The key trends from this retro were:

  • mostly people wanted to feel inspired and have something they could take away from the session
  • Favourite meetup made people feel like they wanted to learn more about the subject, the speaker and felt  empowered and happy about the work they do!
  • Least favourite meetups made people feel like the content didn’t reflect what happened in the session and felt preached at or were too method heavy
  • A suggested improved format to include “who should attend” and “what the outcomes would be” in the event description so the events are more targeted

The Anti Problem

How do you go about creating a meetup so bad that no one wants to come or speak at?! That’s what Lloyd set about to find with the anti-problem retro, which uncovered some interesting ideas and gave us a lot to think about. This retro probably highlighted the most areas for improvement

What we did:

  • We asked people to imagine the opposite of the current situation
  • Find solutions to that problem.

E.g. Zero Attendance – How would we make that happen?

With all the generated data we used a Poster Session to gather all the data. Groups picked the most interesting problem, illustrated the problem with any of the following:

  • What exactly happens? Why is that a problem?
  • Why / when / how does this situation happen?
  • Who benefits from the current situation? What is the benefit?
  • Possible solutions (with Pros and Cons)
  • Who could help change the situation?

Some actions here for us are to:

  • Make sure address and google maps is right
  • Make sure topics are relevant
  • Make sure venue is always safe
  • Make sure we’re always welcoming
  • Have a place online where people can apply to speak

Train Kata

We used Train Kata to look at meetup logistics ie locations, timings, comms, food and format. Areas for improvement that emerged from this activity include:

  • Lead time for event – announce 6 weeks before
  • Consider starting at 7pm to allow people to get there if travelling from outside London
  • Choose venues that are close to tube station
  • Improve detail on agenda (this was also something that we highlighted in “inside the box”)

What are our actions?

What we do now and can improve:

  • We open registrations and rsvps 2 weeks before the event – this was to help with the high no show rate.
  • We have arrivals from 6pm  and usually start around 6:30 / 6:45
  • Event description consist of talk title, abstract and speaker bios
  • We include the address using the meetup feature
  • We don’t have a code of conduct

What we will improve

  • We will open registrations 6 weeks before the event.
  • We will start talks always at 6:45 – we can’t really do any later as this will be difficult to ensure that there’s enough time for networking
  • We’ll have a bit of blurb about who should attend and outcomes of the event
  • Make sure directions are very clear, include address in the event description and make sure signs at the meetup are always visible and clear and welcoming.
  • We will get feedback on and publish code of conduct that was co-created at the meetup!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first community retro. We hope you learnt as much as we did. Look out for our update on how we feel these action have contributed to improving and growing the AWA community. If you organise a meetup and have felt inspired by our learnings or have run your own community retros,  we’d love to hear your stories and experiences in the comments below

Finally we’d like to say a big thank you to Chris, Elle, Ant, Philiy and Lloyd for facilitating the evening and to the awesome team at Moo for accommodating us!

1 thought on “What We Learned at Our 1st World Retrospective Day Retro”

  1. Vincent van der Lubbe

    Lots of small things to improve for a meetup which I just did for mine 🙂 Thank you for that. Am I right in the assumption that with the “Train Kata” you mean the “Improvement Kata” (as in the picture) – but you called it that way because people mostly come by public transport?

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