The traditional circles and soup technique is performed usually on retrospectives of not successful sprints. The technique could be used for release and project retrospectives as well. Basing on my observations there are very often small successes even in failed sprints. The circles and soup technique does not respect them. I would like to present here my extension to the circles and soup technique which I use at work. I call it multiverse circles because this one introduces the parallel positive universe in addition to the impediments base.
Before a retrospective session, the retrospective leader recognizes the track of the current sprint. Having a sprint’s overall picture the leader then decides which techniques is worth introducing for gathering data and generating insights. For sprints with not rosy picture, technique like circles and soup comes into account , . This technique is preferred when sprint went not smoothly. This technique is focused on identifying impediments. Impediments by definition are not positive. My idea is to consider not only impediments. It is very likely that something good took place as well. Keeping retrospective with balanced discussion factors produces more positive thinking and better team feeling.
In particular if we expect that good things happened during a sprint then we can consider to extend circles and soup into plus circle(s).
Multiverse circles retro technique skeleton:
- Divide space into two areas: impediments and pluses.
- Draw circles and soup on the impediments area.
- Draw one circle or more on the pluses area. If we want to focus on positive aspects of sprint in general we can have only one circle. However pluses can be decomposed in a similar way to impediments.
Pluses area can be called in other way e.g. advantages. The circles and soup technique is also often modified. The soup part is sometimes called as concerns.
When to use this technique?
In case when traditional circles and soup fits to current sprint and it is very likely that successes happened as well. I’m suggesting this technique not only because focusing on impediments is playing with problems. Retrospective should be at least constructive. It is even better if a retro will be inspiring. It is crucial giving recognition and not loosing good things. It increases motivation and boosts morale.