Happiness Index – agile retrospective tool
by Luis Goncalves
No matter how good teams are, there is always an opportunity to improve. Happiness Index is an agile retrospectives tool, which measures happiness of agile teams. Luis shares it in his and Ben Linder´s book Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives.
This exercise is a combination of “Develop a time line” and “Emotions Seismograph” from Norman L. Kerth.
What can you expect to get out of this technique
The goal of this exercise is to have a graphic representation of team members´emotions during sprints. This kind of information helps the team to identify what affects its performance during the spring. Whatever problem the team goes through, this exercise helps them to reveal team emotions right in the place.
When you would use this technique
It is certainly suitable for a team that goes through many different emotions (positive or negative) within the sprint. It benefits them when they wish to evaluate the consequences or when the team has several challenges within the spring and would like to understand how these issues appeared.
Happiness Index is suitable for any team, it does not require any specific level of maturity. The exercise can be applied to both remote and collocated teams.
How to do it
Take a A4 white paper and some post-its. Divide the paper in 2 parts/axis – positive and negative. Then divide the X axis in the number of sprint days.
There are 2 ways of doing this exercise:
1) The exercise is done during the retrospective with whole team
2) The exercise is done in small pieces during the sprint
Option 1: Create small groups of 2-3 people. Ask them to do a brainstorming session on events or situations that occurred during last sprint. After, ask the group to create a graphic showing emotion levels with the situations they brainstormed. When all groups are done, create a representation of all groups in a single graphic. Do not forget to put an explanation of each different emotion.
Option 2: Instead of a team drawing the emotion graphic, you should let each individual to draw his own emotion level at the end of each work day. This approach will make sure that all events or situations are covered and are not forgotten.
Both options work well! You will have a great picture of what happened during the sprint. This information helps a retrospective facilitator to identify situations that should be repeated and events that cause the problems or delay in the team. However, you can use root cause analyses techniques to identify the root problems.
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