agile

Memes Only People Who Have Done Retros Will Understand

Memes Only People Who Have Done Retros Will Understand 150 150 Irene Frances


It’s time to inject a little bit of fun into our work life. I’m obviously not saying retrospectives aren’t fun – they absolutely should be. 

If you’re not finding your retrospectives fun, it’s time to check out our list of fun and effective exercises to try. [Insert link to the article here]

With that aside, let’s look at some memes that only those of us that have done retros will understand. 

1. If this doesn’t sum up retrospectives, what really does? How many of you have been in this same situation, and wondered about the irony of it all?


2. A similar type of vibe. As useful as retrospectives are, it can start to feel like a weird version of inception. 

3. I have to say, if this is your attitude to retrospectives, you’re doing them completely wrong. You should be excited and happy – perhaps you need to make them more fun? Mindful Team can help with this. 

4. That does seem like a pretty big problem, to be fair. 


5. Only words of true wisdom.


6. Some people cannot be taught.

7. Make sure you’re keeping your retrospectives fresh.


8. If you know, you know.

9. Don’t get our hopes up. 


10. That feeling… 


11. It just doesn’t happen. 


I hope you enjoyed these retrospective memes. If you have any you would like to share, please do! 

How To Run A Retrospective That Works AND Is Fun

How To Run A Retrospective That Works AND Is Fun 480 360 Irene Frances

Ah, retrospectives, a fundamental aspect of an Agile team. However, making sure that your retrospectives are fun and effective can be challenging.

Below, I’ve listed effective ways to run a retrospective, and how to make them fun. Don’t worry, they all work, too.

1. Express yourself

This is a really simple retrospective exercise, that helps to gather the team’s ideas. This is really important as it can be difficult to express their true feelings or build up the confidence to share their ideas.

To run this retrospective, go through the following steps:

  • Draw a horizontal line on a whiteboard, wall or window – or anything you can get your hands on.
  • You then place a post-it note at each end – one has a smiley face, the other has a sad face.
  • Give each team member their own post-it note.
  • Each team member needs to write down how they feel about the last sprint or another topic. They then have to place it on the line.
  • Evaluate all the emotions and discuss each one individually.
  • You shouldn’t get angry or offended. Thank your team members for sharing.

2. Starfish

The starfish exercise is a powerful but simple Agile retrospective. It’s fun and can make tonnes of improvement.

In simple terms, what it does is, evolve on the typical three questions used in retrospectives: What went well? What will be improved? What didn’t go well?

Starfish bases it’s entire exercise on five words – they’re all in a circle. These are the following:

⛔️ Stop – The activities that bring no value to the team

👎 Less – The activities that the team needs to spend less time on

📥 Keep – The medium ground. The team is happy with these

➕ More – Activities that the team needs to focus on or perform more

✅ Start – New ideas and activities that need to be brought in

As you’ll be able to imagine, the starfish retrospectives give everybody a chance to see what’s working and what isn’t.

With the latter two options, it also provides the team with something to look forward to. Simultaneously, the team can rest assured that they won’t have to partake in activities that they don’t feel are beneficial.

3. Kudos Cards

Kudo cards is another simple but fun retrospective. I know, this won’t be new for many of you – but just in case, I thought I would mention them anyway.

You simply deliver a kudos card to people that you want to thank for the behaviour during the Sprint.

You can create your own Kudo cards, or buy them online – either way, the concept remains the same.

In the end, you collect all the cards and post them on an appreciation wall. What does this do for your team?

It gives you a simple but effective way to show a small token of appreciation. It will make team members feel appreciated, and create a stronger bond between everybody.

We often forget to just simply appreciate each other, with no expectation of any gain.

4. High-performance tree

This exercise can be found in various Agile books, and so it might not be news to you. However, I believe not enough people are using this retrospective, and truthfully, they’re missing out.

This exercise encourages a team to define the vision that they see for themselves. It’s a way for teams to see a path towards a high-performing team. What’s best, this fun retrospective can be used for startups, ordinary teams, and exceptional teams. What I mean by this is, even if you don’t think your team can improve, it can provide you with the next step to a high performing team.

Here’s how to do it:

Draw a tree with 5 roots – the 5 roots should be labeled with the five scrum values. Yes, it’s a little test for you, too.

In the leaves, list ways characteristics of high performing teams. For instance, committed to the success of the team. They should all be related to the 5 values – almost like the tree has grown from this.

This will help teams become more aware of what they need to become a high performing team.

Top tips for your next retrospective

The truth is, there are tonnes of resources online that will undoubtedly provide you with fun retrospectives to try out. They’re effective, fun and powerful – everything an Agile team strives off.

My top tips for you when running your exercises are:

🙂 Keep it simple

😯 Add novelty (make it a fun game)

💁‍♀️ Make it actionable

🤓 Stay focused

👨‍👨‍👧‍👦 Get an outsiders perspective

Modern Agile encourages that we experiment and learn throughout our projects and exercises. Retrospectives are a great way to discuss, collect and implement various learnings.

Above all, have fun and try new things. 

The Path To A Mindful Team

The Path To A Mindful Team 500 318 Irene Frances

TMindfulness; something we hear about all the time, but don’t seem to experience enough in our day-to-day life. Here at Mindful Team, we firmly believe that the world is lacking mindfulness, especially in work. It truly does make a world of difference – that’s why mega-corporations like Google and Nike have started to implement mindfulness in their business. 

So, what is a mindful team, and how can you get one? 

What is mindfulness?

In it’s simplest definition, mindfulness is the act of being aware of the present moment. Acknowledging everyone’s feelings and thoughts around you, and being conscious at that moment. It’s incredibly therapeutic, and really what the modern world needs. 

It can be found within Buddhist traditions and focuses primarily on moment-to-moment awareness. 

So, how does mindfulness translate into work life? 

In our office, there are so many (maybe too many) distractions. Smartphones ringing, tweets, Instagram likes, CandyCrush, admin tasks. You name it – the distractions are there. 

It’s actually nearly impossible for us to stay focused throughout the day – when is our mind ever just on one task, one person or one idea? When are we ever fully present? Understandably, this is super stressful. 

This causes burnout – our attention falls, motivation drops, and passion slips away. At the end of the day, we find it hard to complete simple tasks and lose interest in the things that we were once so passionate about. 

Below, we’ve listed the top ways that you can be mindful at work. 

1. Use mindful exercises 

Just like with every exercise, these train you to be better at something. Mindful exercises train you to optimise your brain function and connect with your own mind. 

Don’t worry, these mindful exercises don’t have to take a long time, nor do you have to be sitting down. Just be creative, and try to practise them whenever you can. 

One mindful exercise that we love is the raisin exercise; the participants of this exercise have to pretend they’ve never seen a raisin before, and pay attention to how it looks, how it feels, how it smells, how it tastes and how their skin responds to manipulation. This simple exercise will help bring your mind to the present, and analyse what’s right there in front of you. 

2. Focus on one task 

We glorify multi-taskers like never before, but the truth is, multitasking isn’t always a great thing. Sure, it might be fantastic in some aspects of life, but not work. 

Switching back and forth from various tasks throughout the day is, we hate to break it to you, never a good thing. As you jump from one thing to another, you lose data and interest – sometimes it’s confusing, and perhaps it leads you to not do a better job. 

A study showed that multitasking makes people believe that they are more productive when in reality, they’re being unproductive and wasting time. 

Other studies have suggested that multi-tasking can be addictive – it’s up to you to break free from this. 

Our top tips to becoming a single-tasker are to make to-do lists, journals, and apps which help with productivity. 

3. Remind yourself to be mindful 

Sometimes all you need is a gentle nudge. It can be hard at work, especially when things get stressful, to stay mindful. 

Perhaps set an alarm on your phone or reminder to practice mindfulness. Just a tiny little reminder could be enough to ground you. It’s a super easy way to be more mindful at work and is definitely worth a try.

4. Don’t forget to rest

Sometimes you have to slow down, to speed up. Our work-work-work life has made us believe that we need to continually keep going to be successful. 

We all know the mottos; “work while they sleep,” “success and rest don’t sleep together” – and we’re here to tell you not to listen, at all.

Sleep, rest and recreation is just as important as hard work and grinding. Make sure you give your body and mind a chance to rest and rejuvenate. This will eliminate the possibility of burnout, and give you a clear outlook on your work. 

Also, try not to rush around and make split-second decisions. This leads to mistakes. 

5. Don’t dwell on the negatives 

It’s human nature to focus on the negatives and dwell on the things that have gone wrong. If only we spent the same amount of time praising ourselves, as we do bring ourselves down?

If you keep focusing on the mistakes and centering on the negatives, then you will ultimately become a big cloud of negativity. 

Of course, improving on mistakes or failure is essential, and they are worth a second thought. However, you should stop directing all your attention for too long. 

6. You can’t change everything 

Sometimes you need to look at a situation, and just say “it is what it is.”

Stop trying to change everything, and accept that some things are just out of your hands. 

To be mindful, you need to accept the present moment, with all its flaws. This doesn’t mean being apathetic, but it does mean that you need to change everything and anything. 

Acceptance is much better than self-criticism. 


We hope these little hints and tips will help you on your path to a more mindful team. With every small step that you take, you will make strides to have an aware, less stressed team. Try to incorporate these steps into your leadership, and you’ll notice a happier, more determined team. 

We all know, when a team is happy and impassioned, the work is better, and the turnaround is smaller. 


Why you should measure teams instead of individuals performance

Why you should measure teams instead of individuals performance 896 453 Irene Frances

When it comes to work, we seem to always look at individual’s performance – how they’re doing, the tasks they have performed. However, what makes a company successful is when multiple ideas and voices come together.

That’s why I believe that teams should be measured by their collective performance, rather than focusing on an individual. This way, a group can focus on how they can improve together, rather than focusing on separate needs.

Let me explain why.

Firstly, what is team performance?

Defining what team performance is would be the first step into explaining. I’d say it’s the cooperative relationship between a group, coming together for a common goal.

I’ve found that high performing teams will focus significantly on the goals and achievements of the team, rather than the individuals. After all, you all come together to help the company succeed.

Not to mention, if you treat every individual as a wholly detached entity, they won’t feel like part of a team. For a company to really be prosperous, everybody has to work together and accelerate forward to meet goals.

Think of it like a machine. Yes, every single compartment or object is important, but in order for it to really work, every single bit has to come together to achieve the common goal.

You can address the conflict

I know, conflict can be terrifying. The truth is, every team will have a little bit of conflict every now and then.

As a team, you shouldn’t be focused on avoiding conflict, as this can mean that you avoid challenges that need to be addressed.

This is why measuring individual performance isn’t the best idea. As when conflict arises, you don’t look at the issue as a team, but rather as individual problems. On the contrary, if you look at a problem, discuss it and exchange ideas into finding the best solution, you will have a much better outcome.

One way that you can prevent conflict or members of a team feeling disheartened is by involving everybody. A high performing team will be full of members with equal participation. Not just one or two members that dominate the entire discussion.

You can measure all interaction

When you focus on individual performance, you fail to acknowledge the interaction between the teams. This interaction is so important and can make or break a team.

I’ve noticed that teams which don’t have excellent communication, don’t perform as well as those that do. It’s a common issue that drives people apart and can result in conflict, mistakes and a lack of motivation.

Teams really do thrive when they take the time to understand each other and expand on the ideas of everybody involved. This is precisely why measuring a team’s performance is much more beneficial.

Keeping track of the discourse and comments made in a team will show you where you need to improve. Perhaps it’s overly critical, or maybe your team doesn’t tell each other their real thoughts.

Harmony and conversation are super important.

Make sure all decisions are aligned

Every critical decision in your team should be made as a collective. There shouldn’t just be one or two people making them.

Moreover, every person in your team should have knowledge of every single decision, with awareness of all the facts behind it.

Measuring your team’s performance will allow you to ensure that everybody’s decisions and ideas are aligned, and more importantly, everybody knows exactly what is happening in your team.

I believe teams will begin to crumble when people in it are not aware of the movements that are happening. This causes some to be left behind, and your company won’t move at the pace that you would like it to.

There will be more accountability

Yes, measuring an individual’s performance will make them accountable for their actions. However, when you measure a team, individuals become accountable for the team. If that makes sense?

It’s important that team members are held accountable for their actions, that will affect everybody. It’s almost like an added bit of responsibility that will keep them motivated.

For instance, measuring an individual’s performance might just make one person check their emails or show up for the team, for their own gain.

Measuring a team’s performance will ensure that everybody shows up to meetings, is responsive to emails, and keep disruptions to a minimum.

It does make a big difference.

It will help you to discover the challenges

When you measure a team’s performance, you will be able to acknowledge all the problems in the team. This is key to a high-performing group.

Once you work together and analyse your team, you will be able to fix the underlying problems that exist in your team.

Measuring a team’s performance will give you a clear idea of where you need to improve, and other parts that you can tweak and coach.

Some problems or challenges may be easier to fix than others, but noticing them earlier will undoubtedly help with solving them quicker and more comfortable.

I always follow the rule “prevention is better than a solution,” and I believe measuring a team’s performance is the best way to prevent big issues from deriving later on in the game. It keeps you on top of everything and allows you to gauge where you’re doing well, and where you need to improve.

I hope this inspired you to measure a team’s performance, rather than just individuals. I believe it is the best way to help you and your team succeed.

It goes without saying, you should also focus on individuals, especially when they seem to be struggling. You never want to a team member to feel alone or out of their depth. One-to-ones are a great idea, as long as it doesn’t feel like some kind of micro-management or constant checkup. Freedom is key.

Do you have any ideas on how you can effectively manage your team’s performance, I’d love to hear about them.

How I applied Agile principles to all areas of my startup

How I applied Agile principles to all areas of my startup 250 167 Emma Obanye

Agile principles were created as a solution to all the challenges that traditional teams had. Initially, they focused on software development, later evolving into overall team managing methodologies.

This shift towards agile principles signifies a significant shift in attitudes, with many teams all over the world adopting them for their teams.

I applied agile principles to my startup and felt the benefits almost immediately. I wanted to share this, so, other teams might be encouraged to emulate or use my own ideas.

What are the agile principles?

There are 12 agile principles. These are:

1.Customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of useful software

2.Welcome changing requirements, even late in development

3. Frequently delivered software

4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers

5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted

6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication

7.Collocation and pair programming

8.Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace

9.Excellence through reflection

10.Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done

11.Self-organizing teams

12.Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

All of these were designed to increase the success of your projects, making sure productivity remains high and that there are no interruptions to the flow of development. So, how did I apply these agile principles to all areas of my startup?

The ones that stand out

All of the 12 agile principles support project management. However, principles 2, 8 and 10 are probably the easiest ones, to begin with. Welcoming changing requirements, sustainable development, and simplicity. These were the three points that I started with.

Changing requirements in a startup are probably the most common factor. The problem is, most teams struggle to adapt to them, and so find themselves stuck. Unable to move forward. This was one of the first steps that I made to turn my team into an agile one. This also covers principle 12

Sustainable development, I feel, goes hand-in-hand with this. Growth should come natural, and an ability to maintain a constant pace is something that your team should strive towards. No off-days, and no super busy days when you can avoid them. Just a continuous flow of progress.

Now, the art of maximising the amount of work not done has always been a confusing point in Agile. In my start-up I’ve translated it to, everything can be improved. Nothing is ever not-finished, which means that minimise the minimise the output and maximise the outcome. We shouldn’t be striving for a finish line, just goals to be made, and making a difference.

Communication

Number six was another of the first principles I adopted. Although, seemingly effortless, when you’re running a team it can be hard. However, I always make time every week to have a face-to-face conversation with my team. It’s really the only way to get honest answers, and authenticity in your organization.

No more checking up over emails, a meeting face-to-face, some way or another is the best way to talk to your team.

Number four is a principle that also lies in communication. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers. Too often, we don’t communicate or cooperate with other teams, people or developers. Having regular communication with other developers really helped. I did this emailing, calling and face-to-face interviews.

Communication is significant in agile teams, and it allows us to make informed decisions, and be clear on how happy everybody is in the group.

Principle number one: Customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of useful software, also revolves around communication. You must always be ready to check up on your customers and make sure that they are super happy with everything you’re providing them. After all, you have to make sure your customers are satisfied – they are always right.

Communication, in an agile way, shouldn’t be long, critical meetings. It should be useful encounters, where both parties exit feeling positive and refreshed.

Excellence through reflection

In my startup, this basically meant that everybody had to reflect on their work, and see how they can improve. Regular check-ins, and self-analysis was the best way that I achieved this. Rather than through lengthy board meetings.

Again, incorporating other principles, this also meant that we would be focusing on velocity and capacity, rather than the time it took to complete.

Self-organising teams.

This point is absolutely something that agile beautifully masters. My startup embraced everything that came with this amazingly.

Too often, as team managers, we micromanage. Basically, we double check everything our employees are doing, make sure every idea is passed through multiple people, and it just makes the team feel less motivated. Micromanagement is never good, and agile doesn’t go hand-in-hand with this.

I created a working Trello board of projects and tasks, creating a backlog of jobs and prioritising others. This creates the perfect organising tool, which allows teams to just get on with it.

Frequently delivered software

I’ve spoken to many other agile teams who believe this is crucial to agile. No surprise as to why. Without regularly producing software that matters, none of the other agile principles will really matter.

My team uses the other principles, especially the Trello board, to ensure that they are regularly pushing for a release schedule. This helps work against the “never done” part of agile.

Trust in your team

With principle five, it came super easy. I trust my team, and I know their individual strengths and skills. I would never try to diminish this from them, or make them work in a role that doesn’t wholly suit them.

Point five – Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted. I did precisely this, and continue to do this. I listen to my team, and find ways that they work their very best. There’s no one size fits all in a team.

Co-location and pair programming

Last, but by no means least is point number seven. It’s basically the idea that two programmers will work together at one workstation. One will be the driver, and the other is the navigator/reviewer. Both are crucial roles, and this method works perfectly together.

The two roles will switch their roles frequently.

I found all these principles easy to apply to my own startup. First and foremost, because they make complete sense. Secondly, because they are, in my opinion, the best way to manage a team.

A team that feels free, inspired and successful, will continue to produce some of the best work, and that’s always the goal.

How did you apply your agile principles to your business? I would love to share (and perhaps copy) some of your ideas.