What did I do yesterday? What fun things came up last week? Did anything bad happen? These are questions I rarely ask myself. As a self-diagnosed "do-er" I try to spend the majority of my time doing things. Working, working out, learning, playing soccer, spending time with friends, checking out San Diego's newest craft brewery… it doesn't leave much time for looking back on all the good and not so good things that happen day to day. Now that I am much older and wiser (I turned 30 last month), I actually made a goal of trying to reflect more on each day and week. I keep a bullet journal, which is a whole different blog topic for a different day, but it has really held me accountable to reviewing each day and prepping for each week. Every week I try to focus on something that I either really enjoyed from the past week or something that I wanted to work on that I thought would benefit my life positively.
I wish I could say I was some type of "how to live your best life" guru or something like that, but I'm not. I actually "borrowed" this idea from a SCRUM ceremony that the Product Development team practices every sprint here at gap. Every two weeks after the Dev team shows off all the awesome dev goodness they've built over the past two weeks, we spend the next hour on our most important meeting of the week: The Retrospective, or Retro for short. The format is simple and easy to participate in and the benefits are tremendous. Each Retro we go around the room and answer 3 questions:
What went well?
This first question gets the team started and each member brings up something they thought went well during the previous two week period. These responses range from "I was able to get some extra sleep" to "Minimal Prod Support required" to "The Dev Day projects provided a lot of value and insight" but these positive anecdotes get the mood started on a high note. It's nice to hear about all the good things that happened to start because the next question isn't as "easy" to answer sometimes.
What didn't go well?
While this second question may be more difficult to answer in a room full of people you work with day in and out, this question is arguably one of the most powerful. Answers encompass things that are out of the team's control, may not affect everyone on team, or larger problems we need to work on as a team. This question provides a TON of feedback and keeps the team very transparent (one of gap's core values). Each sprint we choose one item that didn't go well during the previous sprint to keep in the front of our minds to work on and improve for the next sprint. It's been great to see just how much we have improved as a team using this one technique.
Who do you want to give Mad Props to?
This last question is probably my personal favorite. If you've been following gap's blog you know that we hold ourselves accountable to being a part of our "high-five culture" and the Product Development team is no exception to that. It's nice to be able to tell one or two people on the team what a great job they are doing and why at least once every other week. It's human nature to focus on the negative and after the second question it would be easy to leave the meeting feeling a little bummed out, but this last question really helps bring the team together and make each other appreciate how awesome we all are.
I've been able to see the benefits the Product Development Team gets from participating in the Retro every other week and we've really grown as a team. Other teams and departments at gap have heard us rave about this meeting so much over the past couple years that they too have implemented some form of a Retro into their team's meeting workflow. I've also found it extremely useful in my personal life as a way to reflect on the positives and spend some time working on how I can improve my own self.