1 - Agree targets

Part 1 of integrative retrospective - Capture your goals and key results. Explore risks and dependencies. Agree on targets as a team and support each other to accomplish the result.
Written by Martin West
Updated 2 years ago


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Context of integrative retrospective

In the article, “Use integrative retrospectives for relentless continuous improvement” we identified that the game needs changing. With which they will pursue the change necessary to achieve continuous improvement.

This is the integrative retrospective. The parts are:

  1. Agree targets
  2. Develop insights
  3. Build action plan
  4. Align through agreements

Agree targets

This article covers part 1 — Agree targets. Its purpose is to create a yardstick for measuring success. Setting and agreeing target is optional within the retrospective. It is an internal agreement between team members. So we don’t have to be highly formal. It can be linked to an OKR process, but should not be to linked to performance measurement process. This would undermine its purpose.

The most popular cadences align agreeing targets with other timelines:

  • sprint cadence — often 1,2, 4 weeks
  • planning cadence — 8 to 12 weeks
  • OKR cadence — (monthly, or quarterly)

I.e. the cadence for setting targets may or may not be aligned to part 2 of retrospective — develop insights.

There are 3 cards in this “Agree target” part of the retrospective

  1. Set target results for each goal identifying risks and dependencies
  2. As a team, refine target key results with goals, risks and dependencies
  3. Approve agreement to team target key results for sprint

Card 1.1 — Set target results for each goal identifying risks and dependencies


This first card contains a list of questions that each member of the team receives. The member inputs their goals, key target results, related risks and dependencies.

Three events close this card, then editing is stopped. The data from each participant can be viewed in the next card in table or in a series of record sets. The events that lead to close are:

  • All team members (participants) mark their cards as done.
  • The facilitator/lead sets a deadline for completion and a deadline is passed.
  • The button “move forward” is clicked by the facilitator or lead.

Instructions offered participants on open

These instructions can be edited by the facilitator or lead. Here is a long form of the default instructions provided.

Note: This data is private to you, the team. Please treat this data as privileged and confidential. Agree as a team what get communicated from your output.

The output from this process is the team agreeing to meet a specific set of targets. The initial input starts with your individual goals, targets, risks and dependencies. These are grouped as one dataset at the team level.

The “ask” of each participant, lead and facilitator is to have conversations about targets in context. Assumptions are challenged. Other participants actively play the devil’s advocate. The objective is to build clarity of understanding. Clarity of how results contribution to goals. Understanding of how risks and dependencies potentially impact results. This may drive a scaling up or down of targets. These discussions make the team more effective together.

What these conversations are not about is setting up a metric to measure success or failure. It is about how the team can best deliver value for the product, customer, and/or stakeholders. The 4-part retrospective is a tool to support you and your team as you achieve this outcome.

Context for data collected

Goals are memorable, qualitative, and motivational. Generally set goals that are longer term. i.e. beyond a single sprint. You can have a mix of personal, team, sprint or organizational goals.

Key target results are specific and measurable. Where possible, focus beyond outputs to outcomes. If you have more than one goal or key result, create many records. i.e. a data set that has one goal, one of more key results related to that goal, a list of risks and dependencies that you are managing.

Identifying risks and dependencies to your key result is about asking questions. Using your experience. Think of the reasons you’ve been delayed before. Why will these not happen this time?

Identifying dependencies to your key result. This is about walking through your delivery steps. Where are you dependent on others?

Question set

The question set is defaulted by the designer of the interplay. They can be edited, added to or replaced by the facilitator or lead prior to the start of the card.

The defaulted questions are:

  • Header

1) personal notes — this is one rich text field for your notes — this is not shared with the team and is totally private to you.

  • Body questions

You can create multiple data sets of the goals, targets, risks and dependencies. The questions are:

  1. Goal targeted with your key result
  2. Key Result (against this goal for this sprint)
  3. Is this a stretch target key result?
  4. Risks (that could constrain your delivery of the key result)
  5. Dependencies (for you to meet your result)

Instructions offered participants on close of this card

These instructions can be edited by the facilitator or lead.

Thanks for setting our your target key results for period. The next step is to review these together as a team. And agree together that these targets can be met within the timeframe setout.

Card 1.2 — As a team, refine target key results with goals, risks and dependencies

In this step, teams discuss each participant’s goals, target key results, risks and dependences. In this way, the team aligns their planned activity with the delivery of target results. And together they agree on what becomes collective targets.

Today the facilitator or lead has rights to edit all records as they facilitate the conversation. The team can choose (via the facilitator or lead) whether to show or hide names. Participants can view the data everyone has submitted and can view any updates (via a refresh). (note: we are working on a so participants and leads will have edit their own records as part of the conversation.)

Instructions offered participants on open

The facilitator or lead will structure the session. Any team member can be delegated this responsibility at the start of the interplay. (The ability to pass this responsibility between the team during an interplay more flexibly is a feature we will be working on soon).

The work in this card is generally done in a meeting. The team discusses and debates each goal & key result, risk and dependency. They challenge the assumptions behind what is provided. Each person should feel comfortable that each target is feasible, probably a stretch and not a walk-in-the-park. Through this interaction, updates can be made.

By agreeing a set of target key results, the team makes a commitment to each other. i.e. each person takes responsibility to support the others to achieve the results. To make this commitment feel real, the lead or facilitator should encourage each person to challenge each other. This is important especially when faced with potentially unrealistic or underwhelming targets. Members can take turns in playing devil’s advocate. And can use this role to ask clarifying questions to help build understanding from clarity.

Facilitators or leads can run different exercises to get the team debating and thinking:

  • Identify additional risks and dependencies and debate why these won’t impact the targeted key result. Discuss as one group, or split into pairs.
  • Prioritize the results, and ask if we x2 or more the result, how could we achieve it.
  • Identify and discuss the riskiest target results, determine how as a team you can support the team completing that work.

This work is in preparation of the next step to agree or disagree with the plan. It is an agreement to achieve these target key results and manage together related risks and dependencies.

Question set

The data from the first card is presented and can be edited as part of the facilitated conversation.

Your records can be viewed in edit mode. All records can be viewed in Table or group format. They can be present with the author’s names shown or it can be hidden. Each participant can add new ideas when working in edit mode.

The facilitator or lead can answer the header questions. This can also be used to capture the team discussion. Team can decide to leave the original inputs as-is and just answer the header questions. Or both. Or just update the original inputs.

The header questions are a list of facilitator discussion notes on a series of topics. These are:

Target key results and stretch key results

  • Goals
  • Risks
  • Dependencies
  • Team’s commitment to these results.

Instructions offered participants on close

Participants in next step confirm their verbal agreement/disagreement for the statements documented in this card 1.2.

Card 1.3 Approve agreement to team target key results for sprint

In this activity, each member of the team approve the team agreement of target results. Each participant provides their agreement or disagreement with a comment. This is done anonymously

Instructions offered participants on open

Confirm your agreement or disagreement. Add your comment. Take time to reflect. What does this team agreement mean to you? Use words to qualify your perspective on the plan.

It is good for the team when you make comments. Whether they support or don’t support the agreement.

If you’re not comfortable stating your thoughts to the team in the meeting. Here is an opportunity to anonymously make comments. Everyone benefits from understanding your challenges. Only by working through these challenges can the team be more effective. Always aim to share your perspective in the conversation prior to moving to the agreement card.

Let’s aim to be open. Have discussions. Be brave and courageous.

Agreement Process

The data from the prior card is non-editable. The header and body questions can be output by the facilitator or lead. It is present in the tool for viewing.

Instructions offered participants on close

Congratulations. As a team you have agreed what you target for this period. Aim to stay present with these targets. Support each other to achieve them. If there is a need to understand comments, it is suggested that you use the “Wait 24 hours” rule and then have the discussion.

Call to action

Facilitation is a critical skill used by leaders to build alignment. At Neutral Advocate, we offer a facilitation platform — Janars. Sign up for a free 32-day trial at community.janars.com.

We offer an integrative retrospective that helps you drive continuous improvement. We’ve identified a 3 step plan:

  1. Start: Select an effective team and use part 2 — develop insights and part 3 — build action plans
  2. With success: Add part 1 — agree targets to make part 2 target driven. And add part 4 — align with agreement to remove constraints from part 3 — action plans.
  3. Expand with parts 1,2 & 3 to more agile teams. And engage connected teams to build agreements. Teams like the practice teams like product owners, customers, executives.

We propose some immediate steps. They’re listed on the integrative  retrospective page on www.neutraladvocate.com.

  • Learn about integrative retrospectives by watching a video letter (not available yet).
  • Book in for a conversation
  • Attend a free workshop (not available yet)
  • Signup for a free trial of our facilitation tools at community.janars.com
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