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Are you a seasoned Agile pro? Or are you a newbie? Either way, the retrospective is a big part of your team coaching toolbox. Agile Retrospectives are carried out in a variety of ways. Most often, though, visualization is the best way to help break the team-sharing logjam. Here’s a look at how to use draw.io for Agile Retrospectives.

Retro-whatsis?

You say you’re not intimately familiar with the agile framework or retrospectives? Then let’s take a moment to define what we’re talking about.

Agile is a project management methodology that divides projects into short cycles of work. These shortened intervals, or sprints, help improve production speed. They allow for constant revision.

An Agile Retrospective is a team meeting held at the end of each Agile sprint. This meeting is a chance for the team to reflect on how to make their efforts more effective. And it’s a way to tune and adjust their approach accordingly.

Unlike other meetings, in Agile retrospectives, the team has control. That’s because the team has full ownership of the agenda and the outcome. They’re not told what to do or how to think. Blame or accusations aren’t allowed. Most importantly, the team’s results or working output – never people – are the only targets for criticism.

Agile Retrospectives are a great place to take a close look at your team’s working environment. They’re also an opportunity to engage in a variety of team-building activities.

Perhaps some processes aren’t working the way they should. Or maybe there’s tension inside the team. These are both great retrospective topics. But retrospectives don’t need to revolve around things that are going poorly. In addition, they’re useful for taking the next step in team development. Retrospectives improve processes that are already working quite well. Because they point out challenges that might pop up in the near future.

The right tool for the job

And draw.io’s new Board Macro capability makes examining all of these objectives easier.

draw.io Boards acts like a classic whiteboard. But the big difference is that your results are immediately available digitally in Confluence Cloud. draw.io Boards is embedded in Confluence Cloud, just like draw.io Diagrams, via the macro /draw.

The draw.io Boards editor is reduced to a minimum without losing the central features of draw.io. As a result, you’ll be able to easily capture and cluster ideas, sketch small workflows, or draw freehand.

In a nutshell: draw.io’s Board Macro is a move from technical diagramming towards collaboration. It’s particularly useful in dynamic situations like meetings, etc.

That means that an entire team works within the same board macro to collaboratively move towards a goal.

Here are a couple examples of how your next retrospective will improve thanks to draw.io’s Board macro.

Lean coffee workflow

Lean Coffee is a way of conducting meetings while minimizing wasted time. It’s called “Lean Coffee” because it combines a focus on lean thinking with the practice of meeting in an informal place. Like a coffee shop. As a result, it provides a way to conduct a retrospective without pre-determined agendas. Why? Because the participants determine the agenda democratically.

By providing an uncluttered workspace and simple editing tools, draw.io’s sketch macro works like a whiteboard to help leaders of Agile retrospectives facilitate their meetings with engaging visual aids like this:

Download Lean Coffee Template
  1. Open Confluence.
  2. Open draw.io (blank diagram).
  3. Drag & drop your XML file into your blank drawing area.
  4. Use it as a custom template if you like.

The top image represents the Lean Coffee workflow. To begin, everyone submits a topic or topics that they want to discuss. Once that’s done, the coach briefly introduces the topics. Next, the team votes on them. Each participant gets two votes. They have the option to pile both votes onto one topic or to choose two topics to be considered. Once the voting is done, the meeting begins.

The bottom image is the Lean Coffee Kanban Board. This is where we organize the chosen topics.

And draw.io’s Board Macro lets the agile coach create, populate, and manipulate this entire image on the fly.

Wedding retrospective

The Wedding Retrospective technique invokes a familiar wedding concept (see below). They’re “the four somethings.” And each part of the old aphorism is a type of topic to be covered:

  • Old – Positive feedback or constructive criticism on an established practice.
  • New – Positive feedback or constructive criticism on experiments in progress.
  • Borrowed – Tool/idea from another team, the Web or yourself that’s suitable for experimentation.
  • Blue – Any blocker or source of sadness for you.

The images below facilitate these topic categories. In addition, they provide for an effective “check-in” exercise. (More on those in another post). They’re an opportunity for team members to ask questions of others on the team regarding topics of discussion (“Wedding Gifts”).

Again, draw.io’s Board Macro was made for these kinds of images. It’s easy to create them on our whiteboard canvas. It’s also easy for the Agile Coach to manipulate them throughout the meeting. Or they can be collaborated on in real time by the entire team.

Successful retrospectives were never so easy.

Download Wedding Retro Template
  1. Open Confluence.
  2. Open draw.io (blank diagram).
  3. Drag & drop your XML file into your blank drawing area.
  4. Use it as a custom template if you like.

To be continued…

But wait there’s more. Stay tuned for information on a variety of specific Agile methodologies. In future posts, we’ll tell you more about how our Board Macro can make your Agile life both easier and more effective.

Download the templates above and use them for your next retrospective. In addition, you can have a look at our video below. It will show you how to access your custom templates. It will also show how you can create them for yourself.

In the meantime, visit our YouTube Channel for a constantly updated playlist of how-to videos. Or visit our one-stop tutorial shop to pick up all the ins and outs of draw.io diagramming. Finally, you can book a free demo. It’s the best way to learn how draw.io can make life easier and more productive for you and everyone in (and outside) your company!