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Inception and team happiness

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Some time ago, I did facilitate a final retrospective for a team that has worked together for more than a year. Two of my passions are inceptions and retrospectives. So, during the retrospective, I was very interested on hearing more insights about that team view on inceptions.

Being a retrospective facilitator is very rewarding. Besides helping out some team, you have the opportunity to listen to many valuable insights. Such as the insights I will share on this post.

As it was a long period retrospective, amongst other activities, I used the peaks and valley retrospective activity. On it, each person could share their personal ups and down during the overall project timeframe.

Please find below the activity result.

I am not going to disclose all the conversation about the ups and downs, but I will tell you about three moments that caught my attention: inception 1, MVP released, and inception 2. Go back to the image above and try to guess where these moments were.

And

Down

Below

I

Share

The

Same

Image

But

Now

With

Indications

For

These

Three

Moments:

Inception1,

MVP released

And

Inception 2.

As an inception facilitator, I saw these many times: teams get happier with an inception workshop.

Inception does help with alignment about the work, about how the team will collaborate. But the inception major benefit is the increase of the team happiness.

The inception biggest benefit is much more than the generated artefacts and plans. It is the relationship improvement and the collective happiness by the inception participants.

Another interesting insight was about the MVP release. For this team, a very successful MVP release. And I have had the opportunity to see this pattern on many teams; the teams for which I facilitated an inception and was able to follow up on their product releases.

The inception usually brings great happiness and a clear plan. But after that, the team happiness might go down. This is a common pattern. It will reduce a bit until the next big moment for getting together and celebrate: the successful release.

So, by working with MVP the time between the inception and the successful release is short. This is one of the reasons I prefer a Lean Inception – which define a plan for the MVP – over an inception that generate a large release plan.

And yet one more insight I got form this team retrospective. After the successful MVP release, things did change quite a bit in their work context. They have waited a little too long until inception 2, when the team happiness and morale went up again.

Here I see two different scenarios:

1. Team releases the MVP; the context does not change significantly. So, the team remain on their high-level plan from the inception 1. They keep on working on the next product increment release. (hopefully, another celebration party ahead!).
2. Team releases the MVP; the context does change quite a bit. The team and the work get a little confusing. It is time to call for another inception. Be aware of the valley, and try scheduling the next inception, fast!

I hope you also enjoy this team retrospective insights and keep your team happiness in the peaks.

Paulo Caroli

Paulo Caroli is the author of the best-selling book “Lean Inception: How to Align People and Build the Right Product” (the first on a series of books on business agility). He's also the creator of FunRetrospectives.com , a site and book about retrospectives, futurospectives and team building activities. Caroli writes on this blog frequently. Receive the next post in your email. Sign up here.
Lean Inception: Learn How to Align People and Build the Right Product

Lean Inception: Learn How to Align People and Build the Right Product

Lean Inception is a crucial agile methodology for aligning teams on effective product creation. Introduced by Paulo Caroli, it combines Design Thinking and Lean StartUp techniques to define strategies and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) scope. It is valuable for large projects, startups, and business innovations. Not suitable for discovery activities, prototyping decisions, or cross-team alignment. Active participants, stakeholders, and skilled facilitators are essential for the success of this collaborative process. Lean Inception is fundamental for guiding teams toward meaningful and efficient product outcomes.

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