Continuous feedback during the SAFe PI Planning
PI Planning is a high-priced event. You need to book a room, prepare the materials, order food, plan a social event, flight people over, pay for hotel and transportation and some meals, + even more costs.
The total price can go up to tens of thousands of euros and, in some cases, maybe more.
If you add on top of that the time people spend focusing on the PI Planning process – ~100 people for a few days, you get the whole idea.
That’s why it is very crucial to get feedback on:
- How to improve the experience on the attendees
- How to cut some costs
- How not to repeat mistakes we did already
- How to make the event more efficient
What SAFe recommends on collecting feedback
SAFe recommends having a retrospective-like event at the end of the Pi Planning, where all the attendees can put some stickies on the wall, and the facilitator will help to combine them in affinity notes, and then the RTE will create follow-up items in the backlog.
I see a bit of a problem in that since we tried it first:
- The people were super tired and didn’t have the motivation to do yet another exercise.
- They had feedback on their minds, but they didn’t like the attention to stand in front of everyone and put their stickies on the wall and explain why.
- Some of the attendees shared verbal feedback with me during the day, but forgot to add it on the boards, thinking that the RTE will do something anyway.
What difference did I make?
I was reading a great case-study from Eik Thyrsted Brandsgård and Henrik Knibergand and based on something that they did, I decided to go even further and create a Feedback Meter: A scale from +2 (meaning this is super great, and I want this to continue) to -2 (meaning consider changing that in the future).
The board was there for the duration of the whole PI planning event, and the attendees could put their stickies on that scale. Also, I needed to communicate from time to time that the feedback board is there, and it can be used at any time.
What I have accomplished with this continuous feedback approach?
- A mood meter: A quick view on the mood in the room at all time – you can see from that picture that we need some improvements :)
- Act on time: A see something – do something attitude – if something needs improvement, don’t wait till the end of the Planning, but act now and add a sticky
- Participation: An excellent way to read the feedback from others and to add your own to theirs.
Continuing after the PI Planning
There are 2 groups of attendees that you would miss if you stick to what SAFe recommends as a retrospective practice – those that are attending remotely and those people that love to share anonymous feedback for some reason.
I know you would tell me that this is behavior that I should not encourage, but in my case, I received surpassing feedback from that particular crowd.
To solve that problem, I have created a Podio survey and engaged anyone who could go and add even more feedback online.
What is your opinion on continuous feedback?
I am eager to learn more about how you deal with problems like that in the comments. Remember to start with +2 :)