The Seven Pillars of Agile and the Spiderweb Retrospective

As part of our efforts to continuously improve our team’s working process, we hold Agile Retrospectives every couple of weeks. A feeling arose in the team that our existing retros were getting a bit stale, so as the facilitator, I was tasked with running the next one ‘completely differently’.

I discovered Brian Marick’s Pillar Spiderweb Retrospectives; the spiderweb is nicely visual, and by asking participants to focus on specific areas, should help bring up possible areas for improvement that might otherwise escape consideration.

Probably the most crucial part of making these discussions fruitful is the initial description to the group of what each specific ‘pillar’ means. In order to elicit a comparable set of ratings and a productive discussion, it is critical to establish a shared understanding first.

Helpfully, Brian also wrote up sets of notes for three of the seven pillars on his blog, describing and giving examples of what they mean in practice:

To support discussion of the other four pillars, I’ve assembled some notes, based closely upon the descriptions in the Agile Skills Project Wiki:

Since I only sat down to write these notes after exhaustive Googling appeared to show that no-one else had done it for me, I thought they’d be worth sharing here, in the hope that they help others try out the Agile Pillars Retrospective.

Our Pillar Spiderweb retro seemed to succeed in enabling discussion of points that hadn’t otherwise been considered, and at the end there was a strong team consensus that it had been worthwhile. The team agreed that they want to repeat this format of Retro at three-monthly intervals.

See also:

Brian Marick’s original blog post:

The Agile Skills Project Wiki:

The Mind Map of Agile Skills: