We all know the classic fairy tale of the three little pigs, right? This light-hearted, yet effective retrospective will highlight processes in the team that work well and are solid (brick house), questionable or could be improved (wooden house) or simply waiting to collapse (straw house).
- 30 – 60 minutes depending on team size
- Whiteboard or flip chart paper
- Bluetac to attach flip chart to wall
- Drawn or printed images of a straw house, wooden house & brick house with a pig in each
- Print out or draw your house of straw, house of wood and house of bricks with a pig in each one. Each house will become the heading to your three retrospective board columns.
Explain to the team that houses represent the following:
The straw house symbolises ‘things that we do which are fragile and could collapse at any moment’.
The wooden house symbolises ‘thing that we do which are stable but could be improved’
The brick house represents ‘things which work well’
You can start at either end; bricks to straw or straw to bricks. The benefit of starting with brick is that the team have a chance to reflect on what is working well for them and this may trigger thinking about less stable processes. Alternatively, starting with the straw category means the team start with more negative conversations but end positively.
Decide which end of the scale you would like the team to start with and tackle each category, in turn, allowing the team sufficient time to generate ideas.
With a focus on the surfaced concerns in the wooden house and straw house columns, discuss and strive to leave with at least 1 action for each.
It may be useful to have an owner who will be accountable for driving the action, although the optimum outcome is for the team to own the action and place it at the top of their backlog.
Wrap up by reviewing the key themes and actions that came out of the session.
“What is within our control to change here?”
Emphasising that the actions agreed should be able to be owned and controlled by members of the team itself. Also helps focus the discussion to what is within the control of the team.
“Is there a way we can make this process a ‘brick house’ item?”
Particularly when discussing the wooden house category, it is useful to understand what is making the team place it there and not in the ‘brick house’ category.
“What is it that makes these items solid and strong?”
When dissecting the brick column, it is good to hear what is it that makes those items strong. This may help guide conversations when you move onto the wooden and straw columns.
By employing the Three Little Pigs, you will uncover the inter-team processes, technologies and ways of working with external teams that work well and those which do not. This fun ‘fairy tale’ approach will actually surface vital elements that are in place which helps the team succeed, as well as those that the team need additional support with.
Be prepared that many of the items surfaced may be caused or impacted by external teams, or management layer which the team cannot control. Whilst these conversations are useful to have and are valuable to acknowledge; the focus of the session should be on what is in the control of the team and can be changed in the following sprint.