If you haven’t heard of the Three Little Pigs retro format before, you might wonder how it got its name.
Yes, the template’s name originates from the well-known tale about the three pigs and the big bad wolf. And it will also help you build a stronger team!
We all know the story, but let’s do a quick recap to refresh our memories before we explore how it translates into a retrospective template. The three little pigs live in fear of the big bad wolf and decide to build houses to protect themselves. Each of them chooses a different approach to construction by using different materials.
The first one builds a house from straw, the second -- from sticks, and the third little pig chooses bricks. When the wolf arrives, he easily blows off the first two and only the final pig’s house withstands the attack.
A retrospective board built around the three little pigs retro format will have three columns corresponding to the three types of houses made of different materials from the story.
Your first column is the house of straw. There, your team will put what is at risk of breaking down inside the team in terms of process. The items in this category are the ones that need most urgent attention as this house is the least stable.
For example, if we don’t ensure enough developers are available to work on the project we are negotiating, we risk losing business.
The second column will be the house of sticks. Populate this column with aspects of your process that will require improvement in the long-run. These parts of your process are not weak, but they aren’t strong either. Over time, they will pose a risk to your ability to get the results you’d like.
You need to pay attention to these items but they’re with lower priority than those in the straw column.
For example, we are not consistent in releasing new features each month. This might not derail us entirely, but it does mean we might be missing opportunities.
The third column will be the house of bricks, containing the parts of your process that are rock-solid.
Populate this category with things your team is amazing at and don’t need any further work. This is a wonderful opportunity for celebrations and appreciations among team members and with the wider team.
For example, our new process for work visualization works great, everyone is updating the board daily and we are hosting standups around our workflow, which helps us keep this meeting on track.
The foremost benefit for your team is that this retro exercise fosters a conversation about necessary improvements that will make your structures rock-solid! Also, it’s a unique and extremely fun activity for your team, especially if you pay attention to drawing the three pigs and their houses. The Three Little Pigs Retrospective is a great activity for gathering data and will help you keep the team engaged and productive.
And the best thing about this exercise is that you can totally do it with your remote team by using a virtual board!