A retrospective with DIXIT
Apr 18, 2023
Agility and the long run, staying attentive to needs - a retrospective with DIXIT
Whether you are already an agile enthusiast or a complete novice, it is useful to remember that at KNP, retrospectives take place according to the team's needs. They can be organized at the end of each sprint, on a bi-monthly basis or on an ad hoc basis. They are highly appreciated for gathering everyone's points of view and activating the necessary solutions to get a project back on track. Alternating the retrospective format can give new ideas and motivation.
Image, a vector of exchange
We have been working for an international news group since several years. A very nice collaboration that will continue. Since the redesign of the site in 2016, the team has conducted several deep refactorings, UX/UI design overhaul and continuous refactoring. During the redesign, we were on a steady sprint pace, and we migrated to a Kanban-like pace between new features and refactoring. This long-term rhythm spaced out the retrospectives to a monthly rhythm and the team got used to giving feedback directly to each other instead of waiting for the retrospectives. Nevertheless, we wanted to keep the retrospectives as a special time to talk to each other. Eve, facilitator on the project, approached Pauline, UX/UI designer, to imagine together a "fun" retrospective. She talked about Icebreaker with Dixit and the idea emerged to make a retrospective.
In order to free the speech, to take a little distance and to create a team synergy, we chose to divert the principle of the DIXIT game, in order to give the team members the role of storyteller and to allow them to rely on visual elements to evoke more easily their feelings, their emotions, and their perspectives. In order to be able to do the retrospective remotely, Pauline transposed the cards into figma and each participant connected to be able to choose and use the cards live. We then connected via Meet and Pauline shared her screen.
Since the lockdown, the images are also available here:
Each team member had to choose from the 50 cards offered, the one that came closest to their answer to these 3 questions:
- "How are you feeling today?"
- "How do you feel about the project since you joined the team?"
- "What do you see when you look at the continuation of this project?"
Fig. 1 - Gameplay
The retrospective is then articulated in 3 times: the one of the reflection for each one, the discovery, then the choice of the cards; the one of the turn of table, where each one explains the choice of the image corresponding to the question; and finally, the one of the open discussion, so that each one feels free to react - and this in the rules of nonviolent communication, that we like to apply at KNP :)
Fig. 2 - Gallery of cards
The results of the experiment
By being creative on the format, the explanations were more fleshed out, everyone was able to express themselves freely on their own visual choices, while sharing their experience within the team, and at the heart of the project. By leaving room for subjective interpretation, the actors found themselves on common symbols: the train that evokes a project "on track", the sun that suggests a bright future, the smile as an illustration of a beautiful collaboration within the team ... A lot of positive, in short!
This workshop was well received by the team, because the trust between teammates is there, everyday problems are addressed directly in daily. This format with Dixit will be more difficult with a team that has, basically, difficulty communicating and that needs to talk concretely about problem solving.
If the Scrum Master or the facilitator has any doubts, he/she can first try Dixit as an icebreaker and see how the team adopts the format.
"I found it really good, it's a change from the usual! This format helped me formalize certain things, I find it much easier to express what we want to say. For example, the picture with the kids and the train on the tracks represents a team on top, a solid long-term project that is going in the right direction and the sun in the background that only announces positive things for the project. It's easier to associate certain thoughts with an image."
"Yes, the images force you to try and make sense, you end up digging into subjects that you didn't necessarily think of in the first place. For example, I had chosen a little man on a beach looking at the expanse of the sea, which made me think that I didn't necessarily have visibility on the project. Well, as I looked at the image more closely, with the little ripples washing up on the beach, I figured it represented the random client requests that were popping up, that I didn't necessarily know what I was going to be working on over time, but that there were always new tasks to be completed."
"This support brings a playful dimension that changes the classic retros where you stay on your first impressions. The images allow us to go further in our reflections and to nuance our feelings. It also allows you to speak more freely: since the interpretation is specific to each person, the justifications are built up during the course of your speech, moving from a formal message to a more personal dimension."
"I am the facilitator on the project, and at the same time, I wanted to participate in the retrospective. Pauline offered to do the facilitation and I was thrilled to be able to be a participant. I loved the images that emerged and the sincerity of the KUDOS between the teammates. I felt a real change in the team dynamic after this retro. Less palpable in concrete actions, and more in taking charge and distributing tasks and communicating with the client."
Do you want to work with us? Send an email to email@example.com