Three Little Pigs Retrospective Guide: Everything You Need to Know
The ‘three little pigs’, you say? As in, those pigs in the nursery rhymes from your childhood?
What on earth could they possibly have to do with sprint retrospectives, you might be asking.
You'd be totally forgiven if you're even slightly confused!
But, actually, those three little pigs could teach you a LOT about how to have fun and productive retrospectives!
Buckle up; things are about to get fable-y.
Three Little Pigs: A Refresher
Before we get into the ‘what’, let's quickly refresh your minds as to the story.
As you may recall, the Three Little Pigs is a story about, well, three little pigs.
Inexplicably, these three pigs live alongside one of their common aggressors - a wolf, who is forever intent on blowing down their houses.
Each pig chooses to build their house out of different materials: one builds a house of straw; the next builds it out of sticks; and the third builds a house of bricks.
The wolf succeeds in ‘huffing and puffing’ (blowing hard enough to destroy a somewhat poorly-constructed building) the first two houses, but can't succeed in blowing down the brick-built house (obviously).
The story is an allegory for preparedness: each of the pigs represent a different approach to readiness and process - and can teach us a LOT about the way we respond to known processes, and our own preparedness in the face of the expected (as well as the unexpected, but that’s a different story for another time).
Perhaps you see a direct link to your sprint retro already. Perhaps not. Either way...we’ll spell it out for you.
The Three Little Pigs Retrospective
Taking a beloved children’s fable and using it to inform and improve your sprint might be a little tricky to connect the dots to.
However, looking at the fable’s sum of its parts makes it easier to understand how it fits in:
Your sprint retro is a fact of life. As long as you're running a sprint, we’d hope there’d be a sprint retro (and if you're not in the habit of running sprint retros, then check out our range of fun retrospectives and other Agile retrospective formats to choose from). Splitting retros are a part of the life cycle of your spirits (among other important parts you may or may not be aware of!).
Just as with the Three Little Pigs, your sprints end with a retro. The pigs’ house building will end with a wolf attempting to blow their houses down.
Each house represents a different aspect of the sprint process:
- The straw house: instability and things that aren’t really working
- The stick house: partially lacking in solidity
- The brick house: things that work well for the sprint and its participants.
How to Run a Three Little Pigs Retrospective
This is a fun, engaging way to promote an open, honest and blame-free sprint retrospective, each and every time! Here’s your play-by-play:
- We’d recommend starting off with some effective (but not too time-wasting) ice-breakers, before quickly reminding your team of the basics of the Three Little Pigs story.
- The best way to run this kind of sprint retro is to make it more visually appealing: print off three images of houses made of straw, sticks, and bricks.
- Supply your team with a stack of post-its. Tell them to write down on separate post-its:
- Aspects of the sprint they find unstable or not working - get them to stick these on the house made of straw.
- Aspects of the sprint that are partially working, but could be improved or reformatted - get them to stick these in the image of the house made of sticks.
- Aspects of the spirit that are mostly or fully solid, and working well - get them to tackle these on the house of bricks picture.
- Read the post-its aloud once everyone is finished.
- You and the team should be able to see recurring themes coming up, and whether that's the case or not, you could vote on the top areas needed for improvement.
The Benefits of Running a Three Little Pigs Sprint
Other than it being a super fun way of getting your team on the same page and having fun, the Three Little Pigs retro has way more benefits!
You'll enjoy it for the specific focus on the less-stable or functioning area of the sprint, all the while keeping away from any finger-pointing or ill-feeling among the team.
This is important not just for the wellbeing of the current sprint, but to cultivate and instill a sense of togetherness and harmony for all sprint retro participants for the future too.
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