Learning Matrix

Goal: Think of Effective Improvements for Your IterationLearning Matrix Smiley, Frown, Idea, Flower

Iteration retrospective activities are tricky; it is often difficult to think of practical improvements, and reflecting on negative aspects of the project can leave your team feeling upset and unmotivated. A great way to prevent these from occurring is to play a game that focuses on the positives while also pointing out aspects that need to be changed. As described in Diana Larsen and Esther Derby’s Agile Retrospectives, Learning Matrix does just this. In this game, teams collaborate to identify what they liked and disliked about a past project, and to point out whom they appreciated and what they believe should be altered for the future. Whether analyzing the results of a conference, product, or meeting, Learning Matrix can help you uncover your top-priority items to enhance your iteration.


The Game

To collaborate online, click on the Learning Matrix imageBegin by creating a 2×2 matrix on a sheet of paper before your meeting. Draw a picture in each quadrant to represent a different aspect involved in your retrospective analysis:

  • Quadrant 1: Frown face for aspects you disliked, should be changed
  • Quadrant 2: Smiley face for aspects you liked, should be repeated
  • Quadrant 3: Light bulb for new ideas to try
  • Quadrant 4: Bouquet for people you appreciated

Provide players with plenty of sticky notes and markers. Allow 5-10 minutes for participants to individually write down their ideas for the four topics on separate notes. After all players are done writing their ideas, ask them to present their sticky notes to the group and to post them on the designated sections of the chart.

Narrow down the notes to a few requiring immediate attention. To do this, give each player 6 – 10 dot stickers, which they will use to dot vote for the ideas they believe are top-priority. Resolve ties by discussing which note is more pressing or having another dot vote. Count all the votes to determine which ideas should be focused on. Narrowing ideas down is important, as it allows the team to concentrate on priorities and increases the chance of effective improvements being made.

Move the notes around to reflect the order of priority. Collaborate to evaluate how these ideas can be used to enhance your next iteration and discuss where you can begin making improvements.


Why It Works

This exercise allows you to perform retrospective analysis while maintaining a positive environment. By organizing your thoughts, you can lay out your plan for improvement and discover how to enhance your project for the future. Collaborate to identify what should be repeated, changed, or tried, and to congratulate team members for a job well-done.

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