“Our life is what our thoughts make it” – Marcus Aurelius
Often, when some sort of event is happening, that eventually also captures everyone’s attention, we don’t manage to see or to have the whole picture of it. This is mainly because each one of us have our own perspective on what happened. The topic might be then debated on TV shows, different experts will share their opinion on it, we might also hear our colleagues at work presenting their own version of the story. We will understand what really happened only in the end, once the event becomes history and we start putting together piece by piece, the information provided by books, articles, different opinions around it.
Agile teams do these reflections at the end of every iteration, when everybody combines their little piece of the story and try to come up with the end-to-end history of the iteration. This is an important part of team improvement, that allows us to refocus our priorities based on our past experiences, identifying potential areas of improvement to help us be more productive and increase the value we deliver.
Sometimes though, the action items geared towards fixing a problem that occurred in the past, does not necessarily help us as a team achieve our goals over the next quarter or year. So instead of reflecting what have we done, why not imagine new things that could be done? Flipping the retrospective from reflection to prediction helps us think more openly and creatively but also to reach our goals!
Enter the futurespective, a retrospective where you start from the goal and explore different ways to reach it.
A futurespective sets the team up for a virtual time journey. It starts by having the team imagine they are, let’s say, 1 year in the future, that their goals have been reached and now they are having a final retrospective to discuss the insights. Optionally the team can mention which were the benefits they got from reaching their goals and even celebrate their success. This builds awareness on the importance of reaching goals.
Next, team will reflect on their imaginary past by finding out what were the propellers for their success but also what slowed them down or what made it really hard to reach those goals. For some people it will be strange to have such a discussion given they cannot relay on any facts or things that have actually happened. Nevertheless, there are various techniques that help in this kind of situation.
Finally, the team comes back to the present. By exploring their imaginary past, they can agree on what actions can be taken in order to reach their goal/s.
Hero’s Journey — our experience
A succesfull 2017 is about to end. Together with our development teams we thought to be a good opportunity to start a journey into the future and imagine where we would like to see ourselves in the next 12 months, refocus on our culture and values and come to an agreement on how to reach collaboratively our tribe goals.
We’ve embarked on a hero’s journey.
The Hero’s Journey is a powerful method of story telling that captivates the audience not only because of it’s structure but also because it is easy for each participant to see themselves in the story, making all the mistakes and achieving all the glory of the hero.
In 1949, Joseph Campbell published the book The Hero with a Thousand Faces where he traced the journey (rise, death, and rebirth) of the archetypal hero. His theory suggested that all historical myths from around the world, many surviving thousands of years, share a common story, stages, and outcomes.
Over the years, Campbell’s work has become known as the Hero’s Journey. The journey that lies ahead of us is in many ways similar to that of Campbell’s heroes:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
The hero is us, as a tribe/team . We are on the hero’s journey. We can refuse the call to adventure, but it’s still there. And there’s no avoiding the fact that meaningful progress and change will take place. But, with the right strategy and approach to motivation, we’ll have the power to change the game — to shift behaviour, shape culture and make progress happen.
Our journey is laid out in multiple stages, with the first being that of discovery & reflection followed by intelligence, communication, and formulation.
In order to make it more powerful, for each of the stages, we’ve used LEGO bricks to formulate our stories.
Stage 1 — The ordinary world — call to adventure
We start in the ordinary world by reflecting on our current environment: who are we as tribe? what are we good at? what are our superpowers? what’s our DNA?
Why start before the actual adventure begins? Because we want to get to know the hero before we plunge him into the danger, and to do that, knowing his background helps. It’s the perfect moment to show him at his best. But 2018 is approaching, we know that there is much more for us out there, we want to stretch beyond the known even though there is something that frightens us. It might not be that exciting like landing in Oz but it’s still a change.
Stage 2 — Meeting the mentor
Something important is about to happen next: in order to cross the threshold and continue the adventure, we need the support of a guide or mentor. The guide gives us information and helps us make the right decisions. We don’t have to take it literally. It also doesn’t have to be a person. It can be a book or a phone call, or something that we remember of. For Dorothy it was Glenda, the good witch. For Luke Skywalker it was Obi Wan. For us it’s our motivators, our passions, what we love to do, what drives us, what describes us as a team.
Stage 3 — Enter the cavern
There is no change process that is going to be easy. Every adventure, in order to be worth it, has to be challenging: we meet friends and enemies (not always knowing which is which), the challenges faced allow us to learn and grow, along the way we will find out that we are so much capable that we would have ever thought. That’s great and very helpful news since the final ordeal is approaching. We now face the last great obstacles in order to reach our goal/s. It’s going to be hard but not impossible, because we know we are prepared for something bigger.
Stage 4 — The Treasure and the road back
After all these experiences, we need to recover. It’s time to come back in our “ordinary world”. We are able to share the gifts and wisdom accumulated through our journey. We are greeted with joy and fanfare.
The journey returns to it’s starting the point. Will the ordinary world be the same?
For us it was a great opportunity to end the journey by setting the OKRs for the next quarter. We managed to agree on a set of clear objectives, a specific and agreed roadmap and measurable progress.
Where are you and your team on the Hero’s Journey?