Anonymous Retros: Followup and Friction

In a previous post I described an experiment to build team trust through better retros, using anonymous ideation as a bootstrapping technique to get us growing from low-trust to high trust.

After a couple retros I can report that we are seeing both increased numbers of cards on the retro board as well as some open discussions of intra-team friction. The latter is very exciting, because it takes more trust to discuss problems you had with another member on the team than it does to discuss a team success or a problem you had with an impersonal technical system.

Teams are like families: you don’t want to be fighting constantly, but some disagreements are healthy. No team or family “just gets along” perfectly because humans aren’t perfect. If you’re never discussing friction during your retros, friction is happening and it’s being ignored.

So I’m glad to see friction and I’m glad to see more retro cards. I think it’s been a successful experiment so far. It’s hard to tell how much was due to anonymous ideation and how much was due to just having a couple sprints under our belts as a team. Scrum isn’t religion, but it isn’t really science either - despite the “experimentation” metaphor.