Description of this workshop

Inspired by the eponymous film, the Alien Retrospective is a unique and enjoyable format that emphasizes reflecting on solutions under constraints. It is an ideal workshop for breaking the routine of retrospective ceremonies.

During the solution search phase, the format involves dividing participants into three groups and, for each group, making them present their plan to one of the following ships:

  • USCSS Nostromo: What if our solution consisted of adapting a technology or an approach we already used?
  • USS Sulaco: What if our solution was to clean up everything and restart quickly from scratch?
  • USCSS Prometheus: What if our solution was to use a new technology or an approach we had never used before?

Each team must then consider solutions to the selected problems while respecting the constraints associated with the ship.

How to run the Alien Retrospective

The Alien Retrospective takes place in 4 steps :

Step 1: Reflection on the last sprint

The first step consists of listing the negative and positive points of the sprint that has just ended.

“It's 2122 on the moon Acheron. The Call-class android monitoring the base wakes the staff and shows us the moon monitor LV426.

At 3:46 a.m., during the systems check, the beta sector detectors were disabled just after detecting a life form.

The emergency procedure WEYLAND-YUTANI_SP-05-76421 involves an immediate checkup of the installations by staff in the event of detection of a life form.

Each participant analyzes what happened during their surveillance shift.

We start by listing in the “valid systems” screen everything that was positive/successful. We then list in the “invalid systems” screen everything that was negative / did not work during the last sprint.”

Step 2: Distribute participants by group and select problems to address

The participants are divided into several groups. Each group chooses the most important subject, knowing that two groups cannot select the same topic.

“We will not be able to deal with all the problems. We need to divide the team into several groups.
Each group chooses the subject that seems most important to cover, knowing that one group can only select a topic.”

Step 3: Search for solutions under constraints

During the third stage, each group is invited to think and propose solutions to their problem, respecting the constraint indicated on each vessel.

“We learn that Call also sent a signal into near space. Three company ships offer to come to our aid. Here is their file:
- USCSS Nostromo,
- USS Sulaco,
- USCSS Prometheus.

Each group will have to share their battle plan with the others. In accordance with the instructions, we must find 3 solutions compatible with each of the ships.”

Step 4: Select the most relevant solutions

The last step of the workshop consists of selecting, using a vote, the 3 most relevant solutions.

“We have 3 solutions per problem; we must vote to determine, for each problem, the optimal solution to embark on in the next sprint.

We have 3 solutions to the 3 major problems; we integrate them into the sprint planning.”