Retrospectives can play a vital role in enabling teams to improve continuously. Here, our podcast team is joined by Paolo Caroli, author of Fun Retrospectives to get insights into delivering sessions that energize and inform the whole team — while ensuring they become increasingly effective at meeting their goals.
Alexey Boas: Hello, and welcome to the Thoughtworks technology podcast. My name is Alexey, I'm speaking from Sao Paulo in Brazil and I will be one of your hosts this time together with Zhamak Dehghani. Hello, Zhamak. How are you?
Zhamak Dehghani: Hi, Alexey. Well, hi, everyone. I'll be also one of your co hosts today connecting from San Francisco.
Alexey: This time, we're very privileged to have Paulo Caroli with us. Hello Paulo, would you mind introducing yourself to the few people who might not know you?
Paulo Caroli: Hey, Alexey. Hey, Zhamak. Hey, everybody. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm Paulo Caroli now speaking from Madrid. I'm Brazilian, all the time Agile, all time Thoughtworker and being around for a while doing a lot of Lean & Agile practice, including retrospectives.
Alexey: Yes, and Paulo is a very experienced facilitator with a some special love for retrospectives, right, Paulo? That's our topic for today. I guess we've all been on, facilitated, heard off, read about retrospectives or some combination of that, but given that we have such an experienced retrospectives facilitator with us today, I won't resist Paulo asking you the question. What's your definition of a retrospective? What is that? Maybe we can start there?
Paulo: Awesome. First, let me tell like for people that don't know me. I'm also the author of Fun Retrospectives. It's a website and our book with a lot of respective, activities. For me, a retrospective, it's a moment of kaizen. It's the moment to look for continuous improvement. In a group of people, you come together, you reflect and say, "Okay, how do we improve?" The name of these, like, let's do a retrospective, so we look for improvements.
Alexey: That's a good thing, because it really speaks to the essence of it and the goal that we're trying to achieve, right. Some people might look at the definition of a retrospective, like, oh, it's, if I was, if I use one of those specific tools, or I do a session in that form, then it's retrospective, but you were speaking about kaizen moment, a moment to rethink or to think about how to improve. It's a very high-level abstract, goal-oriented definition. It's quite quite interesting to hear that.
Paulo: Yes. For me, it's more than just a meeting. We have a lot of meetings and like, for example, from Scrum we have quite a few events, one of them would be retrospective. There is something different about retrospective. It's not just another meeting, like planning or review. It is different. It's a moment where we look to each other, like making it a very safe environment and say, "Hey, how do we improve? How do we improve as a group? How do I become a better person for you, you a better person for me? And like, how can we get better?" It's way beyond only the specific work items or a velocity or deliverable. It's a moment of improvement.
Alexey: Nice, nice. How about you Paulo? How did you get involved with retrospectives? How did you become a retrospective facilitator and an experienced one for that? What's your history there?
Paulo: I used to be a developer for a long time and I really like development. It's really interesting, like an engineer mindset, and I really enjoy it, but I really like people. Even though I went to computer science, I like mathematics and operational. I really like people and then when I start to work with an Agile methodology, I found balance in life because from one side I was a developer, extreme programming developer, just cool stuff that you do, and I've been talking to Zhamak about. It's that technical excellence that we love doing.
On the other hand, we shift the way we work. I would say, from the '90s to the early 2000s, where we start adaptation to the group interaction like, "Hey, you should be one thing. We should sit on the same table. We should be close to the client. We should approximate people." When you start approximating people, you do have the chance of relationship. Then this kind of facilitation, like, okay, how do I facilitate a good conversation between people?
If you do these, for example, another thing I'm really good at is inception, so how do I facilitate the conversation to get started to work? That's amazing, but it's even easier in the retrospective because we're not talking about feelings and people with our interaction. We talking about the work, maybe it's a data product, et cetera. We talk about how we look at the data from the product perspective, so we're pointing at something I'm trying to understand. When it is in retrospect, we point at to ourselves.
I started getting very interested on that aspect of the teams. I started following some people that [unintelligible] therapy, and which they have a different perspective also on the team. Then I realized that the majority of books I was reading or people I was following, where people look at the people side of the team. In Thoughtworks, we follow a lot of Scrum, with a lot of events, so we do work interactions in there. One of the practice we got is we do retrospectives.
We always get the-- if it's, "Hey, who can come and facilitate the retrospective," so I always have my hands up and say, "Hey, I can, I can. I'm up for it." Then I start becoming very experienced with it, because you get a lot of interesting situations in retrospects. Usually, they are hard to facilitate and whenever someone invite you to facilitate the retrospective, it's because there is something going on, and they need help from outside. That's how I got into it.
Zhamak: I think it's interesting to kind of look at the historical evolution of how we build software, and why that human element has become so important. I think we start the world thinking that building software is very static, it's very predictable, and it can be planned the same way you plan for the machine. You plan instructions for the machine. You plan the project roadmap, and that's it. You plan it, and you plug the people in, and you meet on the other end.
I think with Agile and Lean and all of these methodologies, we come to agree that the world is much more unpredictable, and it's more complex. Hence, we need to iterate and then learn and adapt and adjust along the way. I love your framing of retrospective as a moment in time to adapt, and adjust and improve so that you can improve. Then with that kind of messiness and unpredictability, then the human dealing with the humans is a big part of that. How do we guide our people to kind of move to the same direction, have the same outcome have the same vision over time, and also have fun along the way, right.?
Paulo: Exactly, on our light environment, we don't want it to be heavy and difficult.
Zhamak: Yes. If we put that kind of historical lens on this, what are your observations as how the industry has changed and how that has impacted both retrospective as well as facilitation, your role within that as a facilitator?
Paulo: Now, that's such a good question. I'm going back on time, back in, I'd say, 2005-2006. We're starting to work more of Agile methodologies and one of them-- which I liked a lot that they made the retrospective very famous because they put as one of the events was Scrum. A lot of us like extreme programming or doing [unintelligible 00:08:44] whatever you're doing. We also had this thing like people-- I don't know, the people interaction is really important, so we started doing retrospective. Scrum put it as one of the events that you must have on every Sprint every iteration so that made it official. Then suddenly, all the teams are running retrospectives.
One thing I did not like about-- First, Scrum did not describe it as a continuous improvement to show some people and they put it very close to the Sprint review. Then what happened naturally, when those two meetings they happen at the end of your Sprint, at the end of iteration, is that what happens at the end of the iteration, you review the work. Then if you review the work, we're software people, usually what happened, you got done with 70%.
As human beings, what we're going to do, we'll talk about the 30% that we didn't finish, not the 70% that we did. Retrospect was that kind of really to point fingers at the work and say, "Hey, what happened here? We need to finish this on time." It's kind of not fun. Unnecessary meeting, not fun and with too much focus on the work, but it became a meeting and everybody was used to it.
Some people like me were like, "Hey, we should focus on the people, not only on the product, not only the work items. We should focus on the people more than we focus on the process improvements." Then, over the years, there were more people that realized that, "Hey, this is much more than the process. The deep interaction is even more important than the process that we're following A, B, or C." I think that evolved on a over time over the years that we realize, "This change is much bigger than in the software industry." This change is like how we interact with each other. It's about the work relationship, the change on work relationship, and then retrospectives change to fulfill this need. Then became something really important.
Even that it's not only a retrospective, it's a moment for continuous improvement, and sometimes we have that moment after the fact. Sometimes, as we do have this moment, and let's say every week, we meet for one hour to talk about continuous improvement, we might talk about it beforehand. Now, we might do a future retrospective. We just got together. Why are we going to talk about the past, if you don't have a past in common. Let's get together and talk about the future. Let's have a perspective on the future. Or let's get together and have a team building activity because we've had team building activities, we become a better team. We will get to know more about each other, therefore we are going to have better interactions.
When we run the retrospectives, they're going to be easier because we had formed a good team. For me, those are the changes. They broaden their view, not only look at the work and not only look at the past, should look more to people or a mix of work, process and people and to look a little bit on the team formation and the future as well.
Zhamak: Then, with that change to expanding this approach to continuous improvement to not only the work that we did, and didn't, also how we work together and how we feel together. Then what are the building blocks of a retrospective that you think has to be present for it to achieve its outcome as a tool for continuous improvement? What are the bits and pieces that we need to cover and consider in retrospective?
Paulo: In fact, this is how I got start with Fun Restrospectives because you realize there are different pieces that you cannot miss in a retrospective. I'll go over a few of them, and then later I'll point out one by one. One that you cannot miss at all is the prime directive, is that sentence that say, "Hey, regardless of what happen, we truly believe and understand everybody did their best that they could given the situation at hand." That's an amazing sentence. Why is that? Because when you are working, everybody, on the same space, we go to a meeting room, "Oh, let's go to the meeting room to do a storming session, to do a planning session."
It's almost like if you don't leave the table, you just go there and people talk about work. The retrospectives is different because you go to a room, and it's like, "Let's not talk only about the work improvements. We need to look at each other." That strong sentence, the prime directive, it's a reminder, "Hey, we are here to care for each other. We're not judging what happened. We're here to look for improvements." It's a very important statement. I even like it too. There's no one to blame. It's almost like a-- it's not a psychology session, but it's like, when you go to a psychologist, when you enter the room and you see the difference, it's a different environment.
You know you're there to look for self improvement. It's the same thing on the retrospect. Even though we are using the same meeting room, it should be a different atmosphere. The prime directive for me is really important. I used to print it and have it on the wall in front of everybody. Nowadays, with remote tools, I like a tool that I can have that sentence in front of everybody.
Prime directive, which difference than other means? One thing that any sort of media should have, it's a very clear context. It's not that every retrospective is about the same content. We need to be clear because we shouldn't be doing a retrospective every week or every other week, and the context change a lot. Don't just go into the room with whatever context people have in their mind. Write it down. Be very clear. "The context of this retrospect is the next Sprint. The context is the release that's going to happen in two weeks."
It's a retrospective-- well, not a retrospective, a future retrospective. Let's talk about two weeks down the line, and what we need to do to make sure it's amazing. Or it is a team building. We just got together. "Alexey just arrived in the team, instead of doing a regular retrospect, let's do a team-building to better on-board Alexey," so the context. Now, you have a prime directive, you have a context. You need to make it a lighter environment.
You need to make it fun, especially because of the continuous improvement meeting, I think human beings, if the glass is half-full, they'll talk about the half-empty part. You need to make a lighter environment to try to bring people like, "Hey--" Make it fun, make it light. It's not because we talk about improvement that we should behave. Then I like sharp icebreakers and energizers to just break the ice and say, "Hey, it's--," light environment.
Some of those you might have a quick message. It might be important if you choose one that correlates to a message that you want to bring in the room given that context. All of those three, we'll take about less than 10 minutes. The context set up, the prime directive and a quick energizer. Then after that, you must have a checking activity. Now that you entered that context, we need a quick activity to see how people feel as they enter that atmosphere in the room. You want to have a feeling if the people feel safe to open their heart and talk to each other here.
For example, the safe chat is the most common checking activity. It's some sort of activity that's really fast, invite people to start sharing without going into details. As a facilitator, you get a feeling, "Okay, are people feeling-- I can keep on going that direction." Then after checking, you have some sort of main course, some activities for either gathering the data or opening the room for conversation. If there are a lot of things on the table, you might have some filtering to filter the conversation to a few items, and as you close, checkout activity. As you're leaving the room, you need to give a closure to it, a checkout which it goes from what you want from that retrospect.
If you want action items, select the checkout that lists action items. If you want people to leave with a positive message, select the checkout that address people and write down one positive message from this room and take it to a few words. Then the combination, I told you about the activities, then you combine then you match them to create the environment and the structure to foster the type of conversation you're looking for on that specific situation.
Zhamak: Is there element there around continuity? Because let's say, let's suppose we're doing these activities every Sprint to other Sprint, that you need to bring in from your previous conversations so that there is continuity and a sense of progress or sense of celebration of the progress of what we have done?
Paulo: In fact, you brought a common, I would say complain about retrospective, which is like you run a retrospective, you finish the retrospective with 10 action items. We don't do much about it, and then we come back to another retrospective. Run a full retrospective, and again, we finish with 10 action items. The first advice is, "Why are you running a retrospective that looks for action items?"
A lot of the benefits of the retrospective is to feel heard, that people listen to you. That's the biggest benefit. It's much bigger than a final list of to-do items for the team. Other benefit that we got along well, we got to know more about each other. I got to know that Alexey has two kids and the youngest one got a dog last week. We can have a conversation besides the work here.
That's the kind of stuff that you want to foster. None of those will be on action items. That's the first advice. If you're only doing retrospective to look for action items, if you think about it, you might do it for bringing people together more than leave it for to-do list. If you do have a to-do list for one retrospective, maybe the next one, you don't need a main course to generate more items. You can start the next one, for example, no issues.
It's one retrospective activities where you bring the issues that are already open, and we'll talk about them. When you select the activities, try to understand what is the current context and pick one that fits your needs. Try not to accumulate to-do list, it will generate anxiety to everyone on the team.
Alexey: Wow. That's really powerful. I've heard many complaints about retrospective. We do a retrospective or an outsider sometimes saying, "We do a retrospective and we don't have action items. We don't have anything to do," but sometimes it's invisible and many changes will happen because people know each other better. People will treat each other better. People will leverage their strengths in a different way, and people will actually change the way they-- it's not an action item, but people will change the way that they act on a daily basis because of the insights they got from the retrospective. That's really powerful.
Paulo: Yes. Think about that developer that's very quiet and very timid. Then you create an environments that she wrote something on the postage to put on the wall. Everybody could see it and she felt like while they listened to me, that made a huge impact for her, and it will change how she behaves. There's no action item. It's exactly what you said. It's visible, but it's very powerful.
Zhamak: Just on that one. I think there's a side note, maybe people are not familiar with this, that the power of the Post-it, where in fact, people that are shy to talk about their problems or what they want to improve, but they're perfectly okay with writing those and giving a quiet moment to people in the room to actually write and then surfacing those and then voting on those and discussing them. I wonder if you want to talk about that a little bit, because I think it's a powerful tool.
Paulo: Yes. It's a very powerful facilitation technique. You want a good environment that everybody feels like, "Hey, I was heard. They saw what I want them to see." In order to do that, first, very important, you need to do a check in. The check in is like drive your feeling, you're able to drive and anyone can roll, or like one word before we start, or how safe do you feel is something really fast.
First, you say like, "Oh, I'm going to draw a here tiger," or I'm going to say, "Amazing," as the one word. Then we have to ask: "Okay. Now, tell me why are you feeling this way." It then which make me think, because why did they say amazing? Oh, they said amazing. "Oh, because Zhamak did this and Alexey did this and now start verbalizing, but not verbalizing.
You asked for why do you think about this, but please write it down individually. That moment of individual brainstorm, you don't feel the group pressure or even the different ones, more team, and the ones more talkative. Everybody has the equal opportunity to write it down and show it if you wish. If you write it down and you feel like I don't want to show you, just don't show the Post-it.
If you write down and you want to feel heard, you show it to everybody, and then we might do a cluster, and then you see that some other people had similar thoughts or thought or whatever it is. The most important thing, whatever you said, it's visible to everybody, even if you're very timid and you don't want to read it out loud, like you wrote it down. If it was something in your chest, like in your head, like it's out there, it makes you lighter. Maybe you will talk about it, if you want, if you feel comfortable. If you don't want to, it's okay. You just put it out there and maybe someone else will help articulate it. That's, for me, it's very powerful.
Zhamak: As you talk about this, I realized like, wow, the job of that facilitator is so complex and there's so much nuance, emotional, technical, that is going on in the head of the facilitator to create that environment and get to the outcome, the result in a short span of time and do that also in a fun way, to fun retrospective. It makes me more curious about the facilitator side of it.
Paulo: We all go through a lot of meetings. When you see someone doing something you don't like, take a note and say, "Wow, I want to do this." When I'm leading a meeting or I facilitate, I want to discuss I didn't like as a participant. When you see something that you really like, and you think, well, this got great results, write it that down and repeat. That's what I did my whole career and now, I got told, right.
Why did I become a good facilitator? Things I saw other people doing that are really enjoyed, I didn't know exactly what they're doing. I wrote it down and I repeat it, and you keep on repeating those things and then suddenly you have a method. That's what I did for retrospective. I like those steps, they work out nicely. You might not know exactly why you're going them, but if you follow them, it will create a better environment.
For example, sample the prime directive, I had no idea why Norm created that thing and said, it's very important to read it out louder. I read out loud all 20 retrospectives. They work nice. I forgot to read on five and three of those went south. I'm like, whoa, wait a second. There's something there. I'll keep on reading them. Then the energizer, I'm like, "Oh, I should had done the energizer in that retrospective. Let me try short ones so it don't take a lot of time with a subtle message," and then it creates a better environment. I'm like, "Let me keep this."
The context, I did retrospect without a good context and people are pointing in different directions on the conversation. I'm like, "Oh, what if I just follow those principles of good meetings and make sure there's a context and everybody understand what is the context of the meeting." It improved. Then it's a method. Nowadays, I don't see it as a very hard job to facilitate the retrospect as long as you do follow a structure and a method, as long as you know you select something beforehand, it goes out smoothly.
Alexey: Paulo, is there such a thing as a difficult facilitating situation? For example, you mentioned safety quite a lot in the prime directive and borrowing from that. What if you notice that safety is low, or do you have stories of other difficult situations in which you need to really leverage the facilitation skills and experience?
Paulo: No, there is. Let me share-- First an advice before an example. The best advice is like, I was praying for creating a safe environment on top of what we had in the beginning. For example, like I'm Brazillian and we sometimes like joke. I'm like, "No, retrospect is not the place for joke." You felt a little you might have people that likes joke and just remember, look, we are in a retrospective. When you read the prime direction, it's a light environment, but let's try not to make jokes because sometimes they don't work. Especially, in such type of meeting, don't do this kind of stuff.
Please be aware of the word and the vocabulary. That's not right to be aggressive. Let's point the facts. It's okay if I ask what's the emotion, then let's try to list down the facts that generate the emotions instead of just talking about the emotions. Now, let's assume everybody did the best job they could given the situation, their knowledge and skills. All of those, even the icebreaker creates a light requirement.
If all of these, something happen that you realize the environment is not safe, you need to actually protect people. If there's something or some situation that you recognize that person might be feeling uncomfortable, you need to walk to the person and say, "Hey, how are you feeling? Is this uncomfortable?" If it is, you need to do something as a facilitator. That's our job as facilitators, prime for-- create and maintain a safe environment for everyone.
Especially on the in-person world, you could see the face expressions easier, so now you could approximate that person. Under motor world, you need to be a little more explicit about this and maybe pick the person, just makes sure, "Are you okay?" Many times, the person is okay, but like you should ask, don't be embarrassed. If you as a facilitator think you said something wrong, it's like, we all make mistakes, maybe you said something on a weird way, just out loud, "Hey, I'm sorry if I made a mistake here. I'll be the first one to say, I'm sorry. I think I use a wrong expression in your world," whatever it is.
Safety, it's a very common question. You're falling in retrospect, there is a check-in and then you haven't built a plan. You decide, okay, I'm going to run this energizer, this is the context. I'm going to read the prime directive. I run safety check. Everything's going to be fine, safety is going to be high. Then I will run the starfish and then these other filtering and check out.
Then you go, their safety is low or for some people are low. You cannot ignore it. You cannot just say, "Okay. Yes, there's some threes and twos there let's move on." No, no, no. You need to pivot the plan. You look at it and acknowledge. Okay. Look at the numbers. Look at the results. You have a few that are on two, a few on four. Given that some of us are not safe, you have to decide. If it's only a few people that are not safe, you might decide, we're going to go ahead with the plan. As a facilitator, I want to ask everybody to speak because I don't know who's safe or not to speak about something, and we need to be aware and respect of that. That's one decision. If you think there are only a few people that are not safe and you have fairly carrying the same agenda, or you pivot, and instead of going with the agenda you say, "Look, I look at the data, it's my interpretation as a facilitator that safety is not low for quite a few of us, so I'm going to change the agenda."
Instead of going and running the starfish activity we're going to run another activity to create safety. I feel safer right now. Please put yourself in the shoes of the person that you think are not feeling safe and remember that safety is anonymous, so we don't know who it is. Write down in the Post-it what are the things that you think are bothering you that would make you not feel safe? Please put on the wall. The moment you do this, you open the space for whoever is not feeling safe to talk about it without saying it was her that wrote it or it gives space for other people that say, "Hey, I think there're room for improvements on those areas."
Then you go down, you look closer. We will talk about those topics that might be difficult. Now, it's there, anonymously, again, not anonymous, but I asked you to put yourself in the shoes of the person, so we're not saying whoever is the person and then we repeat. Now, by looking at those, what can we do as a group, as individual to provide a better environment so that person don't feel this way and then we'll have a conversation about this. That's it, that's a retrospective, you acknowledge that safety as well instead of looking away and continue to do what you plan to do as a facilitator, you worked on it.
Zhamak: Paulo, as you were describing this scenario, you mentioned how you've changed running facilitation on one aspect of it with regard to being remote, that we've lost some fidelity that we could have face to face. For example, you may not be able to read the person in the room, then so you explicitly confirm your understanding on the side asynchronously. I wonder in what other ways remote facilitation or remote retrospectives have changed and the way you run it or the way we do it have changed, both positively and negatively?
Paulo: Start for the negatively. The negative is reading the body expressions. We cannot read the movements a lot. You can see my hands moving sometimes, but that's about it. We cannot see the whole body movement and facial expressions, or even position, how to position ourselves in the room. You're in the circle. You're outside of the circle, kind of stuff. Who do you sit next to? That we lost, that one's gone.
Now, on the positive side, it became easer to find a meeting room. You need the place, you do have a place, there's no excuse, "Oh, there's no good meeting room, it's not a private room," like this one's gone. This one is one of the biggest benefits we have, meeting rooms available for everybody. Another one, anonymous, it was hard. The check in, usually it's anonymous, but to do anonymous in-person, I would have to give out only the yellow Post-it, same type of Post-it to everybody and the black sharpie and say, "Please write in a script that no one can understand."
Then you go a hat or something and bring it and put it there. Now, anonymous is pretty easy. It's just Post-it on a screen, no one sees, dependent that you need to turn off where you can see who is writing, but the tools have this capability. The affinity grouping, it is easier remote. Before, we could not all fit in the wall like, "Oh, here and there." Now, we all move the Post-its much easier right.
Also, one thing that already happens we are used to this in Thoughtworks. We always work on a team and there was always one or two people that were working from home or from another country, and that was weird because you'd have eight people in the room and one in the computer. The majority of conversations would happen in the room. Sometimes you'd ask, "Please, everybody bring your laptop so that we are all on the same environment."
It was not the case. Now, it is the case, everybody participates equally. I think this is a big benefit because, now, we can have a retrospective for every week, before we used to try but it was hard try for everybody at the same place every week, now it's doable.
Alexey: Paulo, can you give people some tips and us as well, some tips about about tools? When we go for retrospectives, there are a lot of different frameworks, formats, tools. Any tips on how to choose the right tool for a situation?
Paulo: First, it's less about the tool and more about the intent. Keep it simple on the tool side. That's the first advice. For example, video conference tool. You can have the whole retrospective on video and conference tool on chat, if you want, but we do have a lot of remote tools nowadays from Mural, that's pretty easy to create, post-it and move things around. Just be careful not to overdo it because it's only a retrospective.
For example, for a for an inception , it's amazing, because in terms of post-its. In retrospectives, it's a context, a prime directive, a quick check-in, a few post-its and that's it and future in check out. Be careful not to use-- start creating just because the tool has all this capability to start creating a lot of things, keep it simple.
Zhamak: You mean the canvas and the templates that guides the steps of the activities, keep that canvas simple.
Paulo: In each plan the agenda of the retrospective, the concern I have for those amazing tools, that sometimes they're really beautiful visual and all of this, but then you don't think about, what's the check-in, what's the main course, what's the checkout? That's the whole thing, what's the combination? What is the context? Make sure the prime direct is visible.
For instance on Fun Retrospective, we create an app that's very simple for this end, because I just need something simple. It's a place for people to write and then it's followed, I want to make sure that it can read the prime directive, I want to have a few ideas on icebreaker. Usually, icebreakers should be remote, they're super simple that will do video on or maybe one post-it per person and a place for people to write, combine the notes and write down what are the action items if there are notes.
Simple tools I think will do the job for retrospective. Sometimes, it happens to me like, for example, I'm running a week-long inception and even though I'm using one tool with all the proceeds and everything, I could throw retrospect there, but it's out of context, so tool retrospective on another tool. You open something, you run it and then you close it, that's it.
Also, be careful. If you're in a continuous workshop, be careful not to overload it with other stuff. For example, retrospective and et cetera, yes, we do respect sometimes at the end of the day, but then if you keep everything like that board that's about the product goal suddenly has information about how people are feeling on that continuous improvement moment. It's not because you have that tool in front of everybody that you should use that tool in that moment.
Zhamak: The privacy of the space you use for retrospective should be considered and independent of, if some isolation from the other virtual tools or virtual canvases were using for the longer project.
Paulo: I don't like a simple tool that at the end you might decide to delete. I know that a lot of people like to keep the history, but if there are action items for it like copy, paste, put it in mail, send to the team and maybe you delete the part, make sure that whatever happened there, happened there and that's it. Some of the data you might want to keep, but not all of them. Keep track of the data you need, not everything.
Alexey: Yes. That definitely speaks back to safety and to people feeling safe with the next one. Paulo, maybe just to wrap up, where can people get more information about techniques and tools? You did mention the Fun Retrospectives book and website, can you tell people what it is exactly and what people can find there?
Paulo: Funretrospectives.com, I created that website. The thing is, I was a retrospect facilitator and then I start storing in my computer a lot of activities that went well. Then I want to share a file for other colleagues, and then I put on a blog like really simple just so people could see it. I would share a picture and a quick instruction on how to do it. Then I organized those activities. Okay, this is a future activity, this is a check-out activity, this is check-in, so it's a very simple website too.
You need to plan a retrospect or you want to find one specific activity, just go there. I do this all the time, I go there and I'm like, "Oh, I need a future spect" and I go like, "Future spect," like, "Oh no, this one, or this one's good for what I want." You just get the place with lots of ideas, to find the one that works for you on that moment.
Fun Retrospect, it's a great place, and now the book, because the book tells why it was seven steps and all of the structure. It's a catalog, it has that initial part that shows you the why, but like the book. I had it right here next to me, sometimes I open and just-- It's nice to get a book and look for activities on a book sometimes. Besides that, talk to your colleagues. Just ask, "Hey, I have a Retrospect, and this is the situation. Have you faced something similar? Which activity to use?" It's amazing how things repeat themselves. You ask a colleague, she's going to share with you, "Hey, when I had something like this, I used the creating the fun activity, and it was amazing." Then you get your ideas from people as well.
Alexey: I had the fortune of being subjected to one of your fun activities, if you remember seven, eight years ago, we were part of a leadership development program together at Thoughtworks, and spent long days around the globe. I recall that you ran one of these sessions with Fun Retrospectives yourself and it was quite fun, for sure.
Paulo: I have good memories from those days as well, it was a good one. Amazing group, right?
Alexey: Yes, I'll never forget one of my first away days, maybe 2013, Paulo puts a whole audience full of people, maybe 200, 300 people with balloons attached to their legs-
Alexey: -and trying to just step on each other's balloons. It was a lot of fun, really a lot of fun.
Paulo: Yes, I love those. [chuckles] It's about creating a good environment. That's a tip for facilitators, just say, "Yes." When people come to you, "Hey, I need to help facilitate," say, "Yes." Then you figure out what you're going to do, things work out nicely. If you need help, please ping me, I will share a few tips with you.
Alexey: All right, thanks a lot. It was a great conversation, and great to have you with us. Thank you very much for joining.
Zhamak: Thank you, Paulo. Thank you for all the writing and contribution in this space.
Paulo: Thank you, Alexey. Thank you, Zhamak. Great talking to both of you, and everybody.