Improve Your Way of Working With a Speakers' Corner

I have a love-hate relationship with retrospectives. I love them because I can hardly imagine any improvement without them. I hate them because they occur periodically, they are always about problems and rarely about pure improvements (pure means to me that we improve because we just want to be faster, and not because we have a problem that slows us down and we want it to get solved). So, I often fantasize about having retrospectives on the spot and just talk about problems when we see them, and have the periodic retrospective meetings for pure improvements.

It is hard to do on the spot retrospectives. First, the team must be able to spot problems, second, they must be able to stop working, focus on the problem, create an action plan, and go back to work. Doing any of those items in a wrong way can easily mean two or three long interruptions a day and that can kill the whole retrospective idea. Again, what am I trying to solve? Have more frequent retrospectives, and separate the problem solving from the pure improvement. Having these two ideas in mind I suggest to have a Hyde Park / Speakers’ Corner section on the board (doesn’t matter if you have a Scrum or a Kanban board):

Anybody can put a card with the description of a problem to the Speakers’ Corner. The team has strictly 15 minutes after the daily meeting to talk about one, only one, problem from the Speakers’ Corner, and come up with the solution. An actual work item can also be put into the Speakers’ Corner if a team member wants to talk about it.

Now we can solve problems in a day, assuming that we have only one new problem a day, which means faster reaction time, less problems for the retrospective meeting, therefore more time for pure improvements. It’s as simple as that.

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