We started our second workshop day by talking about what we like about our team or individual team members and what we think is holding us back. There was nothing new in this for me as we have done bits of this in various retrospectives, but the coaches’ feedback was to take a look at how much positive things we have in our tool belt and see if we can use this to counter the negative parts.

The second exercise was to write down thought, feeling and action patterns that we see in us personally or in our team and that we think we should probably let go. We did this in pairs and then presented our patterns to the rest of the team. Without talking about this further, we then had to individually write down which of these patterns we personally want to get rid of and what we are willing to invest in order to do this.

I did not like this task. A lot of our patterns were centered around thinking negatively, reacting too quickly and too personally without thinking through a situation or feedback and not being able to let go of problems that we cannot influence directly. I think I am one of those in our team who contribute to this the most and I know that I personally have a problem with all these things. Which is why I am working on that on my own and with a therapist. But there is nothing that I can invest now to change these patterns that I’m not already working on. This whole part felt a bit like a mix between every single retrospective of the past year, every single therapy session of the last half year and every single personal reflection session of the past months, with the added frustration of not being able to come up with a single new idea at all. I do have to add that one of my team mates had the good and very actionable idea to write a kudo card each day from now on, which ties into our pattern of not celebrating our successes and not applauding ourselves and others for good work.

I think there generally is value in talking about this with a team to find out if we can now see new patterns or solutions that we did not see before, but I was missing a reflection part about this exercise.

Afterwards the coaches showed some slides about decision-finding patterns and collaborative work. Again, not much new in there, but maybe it was good for us to see this as a team and talk (a bit) about it. They also suggested a ‘Clear the Air’ meeting which we are going to incorporate into our retrospectives from now on.

I feel like I am missing the first part of the afternoon session, but maybe it will come back to me later on. We definitely spent quite some time talking about rules that we want to set for ourselves in order to be able to construct a better, open dialogue in the future. A lot of them had to do with keeping everyone who is interested involved in a discussion, voicing concerns and troubles as soon as we perceive them using the observing/thinking/feeling/wishing square and speaking up about tensions that we feel.

In the end we wrote down some action items that arose from the second day like:

  • putting our new communication rules on a poster
  • talking about team goals and values with our new scrum master
  • using interruption cards to indicate that a conversation is going the wrong way
  • explaining the mini retro pattern and decide if we want to use this

All in all I think it was good for our team to do this workshop, take some time to think about the way we communicate and about the patterns that we think are unhelpful now, although much of it was a tiring repetition for me. I trust that our new communication rules and the tools connected to them will help us conduct better meetings in the future. And I try to feel confident that this will also help us overcome our deeply-ingrained differences that have played a big part in why we had those long, fruitless discussions until now.