Testers needed: designing inclusive retros

The What

In January I ran a workshop at UKGovCamp. I think it was called “How to love your introverts” – I’m struggling to remember that far back. Attended mostly by introverts (and a couple of brave extroverts), we explored participants’ views on what introverts need to thrive in collaborative environments.* 

Borrowing from the fantastic workshop contributions, I’ve pulled together** a slide deck on designing and delivering introvert-friendly retrospectives. The focus is on ways to foster inclusivity as the norm, not the exception. Why retros? I needed a place to start. My hypothesis is that the principles translate to any type of facilitation. 

The Why

I am an evangelist for collaboration and I am a card carrying introvert. Sometimes it feels like the two things don’t sit well together. Open plan working (although clearly not a thing at the moment), lots of visual stimulation, conversation-led work could be a recipe for disaster for introverts who generally prefer space for thinking and reflection and low stimulus settings. On the flip side, working in “pizza sized” focused teams is fertile ground for introverts, who tend to blossom in smaller groups. 

Despite the connotations of the word, collaboration isn’t necessarily inclusive. Reflective of our extrovert-centric culture, facilitation techniques often reward the attributes and qualities of quick-thinking, talkative types. Figures vary, but up to 40 per cent of the population are introverts. Designing our agile practices to bring out the best in introverts is a necessity, rather than a nice to have. 

The Ask

I’m looking for feedback on the ideas in the slide deck. What works? What doesn’t? What have I missed? My contact details in the deck or use the comments section below.  Thank you for helping me to make this piece of work better.

*As an aside, introversion and extroversion are not binary concepts. Personality traits exist on a continuum. People who exhibit both introvert and extrovert tendencies are dubbed ambiverts.  
**What took me so long, right?

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One thought on “Testers needed: designing inclusive retros”

  1. Would you recommend asking people to identify as introvert/extrovert or just to give this a go? I am exhausting myself in lockdown trying to keep everyone enthused and collaborating, and it feels really liberating to acknowledge that there is another way!

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