I’m a tool/model addict and anything which makes my thinking easier is a bonus. I sometimes struggle with forming my thoughts into cohesive structures, so I find models an invaluable additional to my arsenal.

I want to introduce people to a very simple tool you can use to help continually improve your team and what they do. Just like you have Continuous Integration for your software development process, teams should have continuous improvement as part of their normal behaviours as well.

Most agile processes include a reflection step. In a Scrum Retrospective, the standard questions to ask are:

  • What did we do well?
  • What could be improved in the next sprint?

I feel these fall short in many ways. These two questions aren’t targetted enough to generate any real actionable outcomes. Instead, I would use the reflection model.

The Reflection Model

<img src="http://i.imgur.com/YnOsZ9k.jpg" width="60%" />

Spend a few minutes in each quadrant and ask yourself (or your team), what you should do more of, less of, and what you should keep, add and delete. You can work around them one by one or take random suggestions and add them to the appropriate box.

A nice outcome for the visuals amongst us is that you can see right away which areas you haven’t spent enough time on. I find it useful to focus on these for a few extra minutes to encourage yourself to stretch your thinking.

Why it works

This exercise is a subtle way to celebrate the things you're doing well. It also helps you come up with practical suggestions for those things which aren’t so great.

When reflecting, it is important to phrase your words in actionable terms. “More communication” won’t get you anywhere, but “Update Jane once a week on progress” is much more useful.

The best thing of all about this model is that it is not only useful for work. When it was first presented to me, it was used for personal reflection. What in your life do you want to do more/less/keep/add/delete.

You can really use it for anything you need to reflect and improve on. The more specific the topic, the better the results.