What is a Mad Sad Glad retrospective?
The mad sad glad retrospective frames discussion around the emotional journey of by your team during the previous sprint, and is a great way to identify opportunities to improve team morale and job satisfaction. The retrospective asks participants to share what made them feel frustrated or annoyed (mad), disappointed (sad) and what made them feel happy or proud (glad).
This mad sad glad style retrospective encourages your team to be more emotionally-aware to help build a positive team dynamic, and provides an opportunity to reflect on issues and opportunities from a different perspective. It is important you remember the retrospective prime directive and focus on events, behaviours and processes – not on assigning blame or ‘guilting’ individuals.
Mad – List the things that are driving you crazy. What is stopping you from performing at your best?
Sad – What are some of the things that have disappointed you or that you wished could be improved?
Glad – What makes you happy when you think about this project? What are the elements that you enjoy the most?
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.
Running a mad sad glad retrospective
Start your retro in a click
Log into TeamRetro and choose the Mad Sad Glad Retrospective template.