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Retrospective Check-In using ESVP technique
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Retrospective Illustration

Continuous improvement in Agile development is crucial. One way to continuously improve is through regular retrospective meetings, where team members reflect on their recent work and identify areas for improvement. Recently, I have tried applying one simple Retrospective Check-in technique called ESVP. It can be an effective way to gather insights into how team members feel about their work and identify areas for improvement. In this article, I’ll explain what the ESVP technique is and how it works, which I hope will give you some ideas for your next meeting!

What is the ESVP technique?

The ESVP technique is a simple but effective way of identifying team members’ mindsets and engagement levels. ESVP stands for Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer, and Prisoner, which are four categories that represent different attitudes that team members may have. There are four categories as follows:

ESVP Illustration

– Explorers: Are eager to discover new ideas and insights. They want to learn everything they can about the iteration/release/ project.
– Shoppers: Will look over all the available information and be happy to go home with one useful new idea.
– Vacationers: Aren’t interested in the work of the retrospective, but are happy to be away from the daily grind.
– Prisoners: Feel they have been forced to attend and would rather be doing something else.

How does the ESVP technique work?

The ESVP technique is conducted anonymously to ensure that team members feel comfortable sharing their true mindset without fear of judgment. Here are the steps for conducting the ESVP technique:

Step 1: Explain the ESVP categories

At the start of the retrospective meeting, I explain the ESVP technique to the team. I emphasize that ESVP is an anonymous activity that allows team members to express their mindsets and concerns without fear of judgement. I explain the four categories and provide examples of what each category might represent.

Step 2: Collect “Vote”

To ensure that the ESVP activity is anonymous and efficient manner, I use an online tool here. The tool allows team members to pick the categories anonymously and the team can join from anywhere. Moreover, it will be easier to gather insights than old-fashion way with paper or sticky note.

Step 3: Collect and analyze responses.

Once the team has completed the ESVP activity, I have the result on my screen and analyze the responses.

Step 4: Share and discuss the results

I share the overall results with the team but I want to highlight any significant patterns or trends that emerged. I will try my best to encourage open discussion about any issues or challenges that may be affecting team engagement or productivity. For example, if we have so many Vacationers, it may imply that a team may be feeling overloaded or stressed with iteration work, so that they are enjoying the “relaxing time”.

Step 5: Identify potential solutions

After discussing the results, we work together as a team to identify potential solutions to any raised issues or challenges. Continue with the example above, by developing strategies to address these concerns, such as prioritizing tasks or delegating responsibilities, the team can improve their chances of meeting the deadline.

Step 6: Create an action!

Finally, don’t forget to create the specific action toward the solutions that were identified. To my case, I am using Azure Retrospective Board to log the actions with the action owners.

Key take away!

The ESVP technique is a powerful tool for improving team collaboration and productivity by providing a simple and anonymous way for team members to share their mindsets and concerns. It’s important to remember that the ESVP technique is only a tool for gathering insights and identifying areas for improvement. We should consider a deeper analysis of the responses and identify common themes or concerns.

A passionate and experienced Project Manager in the IT and BPO field. I always aim to be the one that takes the primary responsibility for the project's success. I like to question everything, agile for changes, and execute it.

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