Give people the time and space to open up and share. And, as long as they are not making derogatory remarks and understand the no-blame principal, then each idea should be discussed.
Don’t try and solve the problems on the spot. It is not always possible and some problems may not actually be fix-able. The goal is simply to work through the issues and then look for solutions afterwards to report back at the next meeting.
Frequent retrospectives can be better than infrequent deep post-mortems. Rather than running a post-mortem, consider running your retrospectives frequently so you can quickly make changes before it’s too late. Much like steering a big ship, it’s a lot easier to make small changes en route to the destination, rather than finding out at the end you have docked in the wrong port.
Anonymous or named? Given that mad sad glad is all about sharing how people feel, there are some pros and cons to anonymity:
Anonymous brainstorming – If you have a positive team dynamic, reasonable maturity and and team communication skills – anonymity is a great way to provide people a safe space to share. By being anonymous, it might draw out something in the project that would otherwise remain hidden beneath the surface. The drawback of anonymity is that it gives people the opportunity to say what they want, play the political game or be insensitive. For the seasoned facilitator who can deal with this, however, the anonymous option can provide invaluable insights.
Non-anonymous brainstorming – by having names attached to comments, this increases accountability and also means that it automatically starts to moderate the ideas suggested. This will require team members to have a certain level of built trust and courage to say that is on their mind but might reduce the likelihood that the truth may be hidden because of fear of being pinpointed.
Think of your current team culture and how you think they might react to a mad, sad glad retrospective? If you think you can manage the social risk by setting the right tone, have a team that is relatively respectful and collaborative and focused on solutions, not blame – then anonymous brainstorming is what we would recommend.