Thirty-Five technique

It had been a long time since we had done our last retrospective. There were a few reasons for not doing it, but the most important was the customer and his deadlines. We did everything in a hurry as more and more functionality had to be added, having no time for internal process improvement.

Release had been done and finally we were able to slow down and get a
little bit of fresh air. I was sure that it was a good point to do a
retrospective. Moreover, I had heard some requests for it coming from
the team – that was great as the team felt the need for a retrospective! So we
scheduled it. As facilitator, I set myself a new goal – find a new tool
that could be used in retrospective. It was kind of a challenge as we
had already tried: Happiness Histogram, Art Gallery Exercise, Energy
Seismograph, Speed boat, Mountain, Radar. I found the 35 technique
after a couple hours of searching. Simple principles & positive feedback
in the post  convinced me to give it a try.

Our rules were:
– 10 attendees = 10 cards
– maximum 3 items on index card
– QA’s can’t pair together – they should be mixed with development team
– cards are jumbled together, their content not visible during draw
– each pair takes two cards
– pairs sit in the circle
– after scoring pair passes cards to a pair on the left side
– we stop passing when cards come back to first pair and then sum up
points for each card

We did a round for What went well (green index card) at first, then we
focused on Things to improve (pink index card).  Each round took
around 15 minutes. By the end we put cards on the table and ordered
them by total points. Our winners for both cases were cards with the
highest number. For pink one we additionally did regular discussion of
actions that need to be taken.

It went quite smooth and made everyone contribute to the
retrospective. Additionally it allowed people to collaborate
during card’s scoring. My final word on 35 is that it is a fast and easy
way to find agreement.