Retrospective Facilitator Gathering

Regardless of what we discover...

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Workshopping Retrospective Fluency

(initial notes provided by Mark Kilby, transcriptions and further notes below by Diana Larsen)

  • Fluency != Maturity
  • Fluency != Developmental Model
  • Fluency = Learning for Use

WAYK - Where Are Your Keys

Developed by Evan Gardner (More on Willem’s blog; early stages; URLs below)

  • a learning model for languages
  • taking the ACTFL model developed in WWII for learning quickly (ACTFL - Amercian Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
  • using ASL as physical response anchors to determine level of fluency


  • what do you need to say
  • can you say it

Not everyone needs seem level of fluency

  • ambassador and closest aids need fluency
  • guard at gate just needed simple phrases

Levels of Fluency:

  • Charlie Rose
  • Larry King
  • Sesame Street
  • Barney


  • simple phrases
  • present tense

Sesame Street

  • get into comparisons and categories
  • simple questions (Are these your keys?)
  • still present tense

Larry King

  • can now tell my story
  • tenses

Charlie Rose

  • get abstract
  • philosophize and discuss nuances


  • can get by with Barney to Sesame Street
  • much of conversation and questions are present tense

Fluency is a learning model - a learning question?

Example: SM with 5-6 people on team (been together for a while) - somewhat complex but well defined - do I need same level of fluency as someone else who is doing a retro for a mission critical 4yr project - it is different levels of fluency

How fluent do I need to be to do my job? Or a job?

More fluency in a particular scenario/job may not help - it may get you into more trouble

Fluent Fool - a method of teaching that extracts the language from them - they don’t know how to teach, but they will correct you - so the learner needs to ask the right questions - learner stays in control (why immersion works) - it works at all 4 levels

  1. - as you choose to increase fluency, you ask different questions

e.g., PO owns the backlog - it doesn’t help to build acceptance criteria - they need to ask the right questions - PO is the fluent fool - team seeking to become fluent in the backlog and stories

What is fluency in leading retrospectives?

Ability to state a goal and formulate an agenda

Diana's Notes and Flip Chart Transcriptions

(See end for additional notes from after the session.)

Fluency != Maturity

Fluency != Developmental Model

Fluency = Learning for Use

Retrospective Fluency Levels

(Looking for new labels for the levels of fluency/proficiency. In the interim, using the language/US TV labels.) RL - retrospective leader

We split into Four Groups to explore the characteristics of four levels of fluency for retrospective facilitators. What proficiency does it take to lead an effective retrospective? It depends.

Barney RFG Group

(Note: Willem suspects the description below may describe a late Sesame Street/Larry King Level, since it already requires an awareness of past and future, as well as facilitation skills. He suggests that simply facilitating a discussion using present-focused, ORID questions may reflect Barney level more accurately. )


Must be able to hit all the points of an effective retrospective, in a minimal, “simplest thing that can possibly work” way. Fully competent at a basic level. Participants have fun.

The ‘“Barney” group decided that a RL would have found (or created) one generic retrospective agenda/design that they re-use multiple times.

  • Agenda - may or may not have goal/focus (not using context)
  • Gather Data - Timeline
  • Generate Insights - 4W’s
  • Decide What to Do - Dot Vote
  • Close the Retrospective - Thank you, and I will put notes on wiki. (no retro on the retro)

Repeats this design every time.

Fluent Fool likely to be available:

  • Sesame Street Facilitator or Experienced Barney
  • may not have anyone to ask questions of in their organization

Sesame Street RFG Group


  • Now (isolated past/future)
  • Comparisons
  • Ask Questions
  • Counting
  • Fundamentals
  • Not in a consulting mode → Not relating to past experience
  • Meaning of the data
  • Multiple (a few) choices of activity for each process step
  • Understand the need to vary but may not be sure how/when
  • Asking, “Did this work?”
  • We can analyze the data we have after the retro but can’t totally generate insights for retro of retro

Fluent Fool:

  • Team
  • Book/Web (a resource but not really FF, because it gives no immediate feedback)
  • Community
  • Mentor
  • Buddy

Safe & Simple

Conscious learning mode

Larry King RFG Group:

We brainstormed what the levels looked like, creating a grid.


  • Political Boundary = Team
  • Maturity = Intention
  • # Players = 2-7
  • Layers of Subject hierarchy = 1
  • Level of Dysfunction = None

Sesame Street

  • Political Boundary = Project
  • Maturity = (shu) Team apply the rules by rote
  • # Players = 3 - 25
  • Layers of Subject hierarchy = 2-3
  • Level of Dysfunction = Comm. (communication?)

Larry King

  • Political Boundary = Intra-Org
  • Maturity = (ha) Team adjust rules
  • # Players = 4 - 35
  • Layers of Subject hierarchy = 4-6
  • Level of Dysfunction = Fear, political sabotage

Charlie Rose

  • Political Boundary = Inter-org
  • Maturity = (ri) team: principles rule
  • # Players = 36+
  • Layers of Subject hierarchy = 7+
  • Level of Dysfunction = emotional

Charlie Rose RFG Group:


  • Manage complex group dynamics
  • Re-direct people who are sidetracking or taking negative way
  • Coaching
  • Knowing when to remove someone from the process
  • Knowing how to contract effectively
  • Re-negotiating contract - why, when, how
  • Knowing how to deal with unexpected
  • Self-awareness and use of self
  • Intervention Skills

Knowing the boundaries of safety

Fluent Fool;

  • Other skilled facilitators
  • OD practitioners
  • Books related to OD & group dynamics (Resource, not FF; no immediate corrective feedback)


Additional Notes and Background on Learning Fluency


Fluency is effortless skill, actionable knowledge, conscious competence.

Fluency = no hesitation

Fluency means you can do whatever you say you can do, without hesitation, on the spot, effortlessly. You have comfort in your skin about it.

Fluency means flow, grace, ease.

Fluent Fool

Fluent Fool = Always the most experienced person you can find in your “target dialect.” (Every fluent fool comes with an “accent”; represents a “dialect”.) Someone who can do the thing you want to do. Immediate corrective feedback loop.

Definition of 5 Proficiency Levels at which one can become effortlessly fluent in languages:

Barney - passing single words back and forth about your immediate environment, what is physically present around you in the moment, words about self

Sesame Street - passing sentences back and forth, question and answer, about your immediate environment, includes words and sentences about self and other.

Larry King - passing paragraphs back and forth, speaking about past, present and future, words and sentences about family, self, other and context.

Charlie Rose - passing multiple paragraphs/exposition about society - economic, social and political issues, about philosophy, morality, using words like “should”, “must”…

Distinguished Speaker (Obama?) - realize/recognize/move between multiple dialects; can speak with scientists, tradesmen, politicians, business people, children, etc., with equal ease. Leading retrospectives requires a level of proficiency with meeting facilitation that allows for reflecting on past and its impact on the present and future.

Insights about Leading Retrospectives and Fluency

To lead a retrospective, one must first have proficiency at leading group discussions and meetings concerning issues of physically present issues - e.g., how could we arrange our workspace differently? how do we feel about the new company directive? Facilitator is the Fluent Fool for the team (team members), helping them to gain similar level of ease with leading meetings.


Here’s a mind-exploding part! Part of knowing your skill level is the constant (self-generated) pressure to pull others up to a similar level as yourself. A fluent self-sufficient learner (fluent self-teacher) will also teach others. They can’t help it. It’s all teaching. There is no learning. (Learning is a model that reinforces the hierarchical system of expert → student.)

“Everybody is an expert in their own life experience and what they care about. So everybody has something to teach.” Willem Larsen

retrospective_fluency.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/27 07:58 by