How to prioritize your retrospective ideas

During a retrospective at our Agile Coaching Group, we were brainstorming about being Agile, vs. merely Doing Agile. The discussion was fun and interesting and we ended up with the following board.

The board was rich with suggestions, but we needed to find a way to prioritize it. We usually do it by grouping ideas in buckets, and then we classify them with the MoSCoW method:

  • Must do. These are no-negotiable activities that must all be done
  • Should do- The team tries to make the most of them
  • Could do. Medium priority, prone to cost-cutting activities
  • Would Do. Last in priority, nice to have features

This time though, we tried a different approach in order to come up with a ready-to-go next step proposal. After a short discussion, we decided to use two criteria: value and cost, and we ended up with the following prioritized board, which I loved.

The second board has, after discussion, all the ideas prioritized in four Value/Cost quadrants:

  • TOP RIGHT: low-hanging fruits: these are hi-value, low-effort easy changes suggestions. Go for them now.
  • TOP LEFT: difficult and costly Initiatives, with a promise of high value delivered when correctly executed. These are costly Initiatives, you should carefully evaluate, fund, and execute them.
  • BOTTOM RIGHT: suggestions with limited costs, but with marginal value. No big interest in them.
  • BOTTOM LEFT: the quadrant includes low-value and high-cost initiatives. They could be deemed so because of the way the company manages them, or they could be management fads or just good ideas in the wrong context. Just stay away.

So, that’s just an amazing and simply tool to help you order and communicate your ideas while reflecting about priorities during your retrospectives and post-mortem.

Marcello Del Bono is coaching and leading Agile Teams, supporting Transformation programs. He has multi-year experience as a Product Owner, Scrum Master and Agile Coach in e-commerce, IT, Marketing and Decision Support Systems in Media, Telco, Finance, Fashion industries.

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