Retrospective : Cross-functional team ecocycle

Written by , in category Agile & Scrum

13 February 2019

Object of Play

Cross functional teams are a basic building block of high performing agile teams. They are essentially a group of people from different areas of expertise working together to achieve a common goal. The main idea is that the assembly of different skills and knowledge will cultivate innovative solutions. But, just because you group a bunch of people together, it doesn’t mean things will go smoothly.

This retro will help team reflect on the advantages of cross functional teams.

Number of people

Multiple teams, up to a Large Scale Scrum LeSS Area or around 50 people

Duration : 1.5 (1 team) to 2.5 hours for large groups



A board with an ecocycle


A distributed retrospective tool, ex Conteneo with eco-cycle


Prepare a set of stickies with some of the advantages of cross functional teams :

  • Whole product focus
  • Gain a better insight from multiple angles
  • Learning from each other
  • Leaping organisational barriers
  • Being rewarded as team
  • Motivation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Innovation Spark
  • Creating Value
  • Cross team communication
  • Knowing what others do
  • Open Mind
  • 1 purpose over multiple teams

Prepare the wall with an ecocycle

Include an artful participation poster and the prime directive :

“I commit to acting in such a way that my behavior in the moment is the greatest contribution I can make to the effectiveness of a collaboration.”

“Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.”

With larger teams we will use a 1-2-4-All Liberating structure to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute. The initial individual answers are weighted against the other participants answers and the duplicates are removed.

For exercises with one team or < 16 people 1-2-4-All is not needed.

Part 1: Opening Stage 10’

Make sure all advantage stickies have numbers on them.. it will be easier to collect and group them later.

Call out each of the advantage stickies and let every person on his own decide in what quadrant of the ecocycle he will place the advantage.  Quadrant 1 : top left (renewal) , 2. Birth, 3. Ma turity, 4. Rebirth / creative destruction.

Use following color codes :

  • green : that quadrant is ok for me.. it doesn’t need to go anywhere else
  • red : I believe the adoption  maturity should move to a next quadrant

Part 2: Exploration Stage 1 : 20’

1-2-4-All part two

Each participant teams up with someone else and compares his stickies and colors to his teammate. A small discussion to find out what they should keep as a pair.  

This part needs time boxing and tight follow or discussion will take up too much time!


Part 3 : For larger groups Exploration Stage 2 : 15 ‘

Pairs of two select other pairs of two and form teams of 4.
They go over each sticky to try to agree on a color and quadrant for them.

The groups of 4 select a person who will add their items on the timeline, giving a short word of explanation.

Part 4: Exploration Stage 3 : 15 ‘

The groups of 4 select a person to take turn to add their items  on the eco-cycle. With a very short summary for each item as to why they put them there.

For smaller groups this can happen in pairs.

Part 5: Collecting action items  : 5-10 ‘

Items that need attention will be clustered together in the same quadrant in red.

Optional: Dot voting items : 5’

If it is clear, just pick the items with most red.. If it is unclear, proceed with a dot voting step to collect the items the teams want to work on. Give each of them 3 lines to vote.

Cluster all stickies with the same number in the same quadrant together, it will be easier to dot-vote after that.

Make sure  all participants have something to write and let them put a dot/line on the stickies..

If they want to vote on a number, ask them to check if someone has already put a vote on another sticky with the same number, and add their vote on the sticky with an existing vote.

Collect the stickies with the  top votes.


Closing Stage 1 : Collecting action points : 10’

Create new columns with the collected values to improve, and write from what quadrant to what quadrant they need to move:

The last part of this retro is where the teams of 4 reflect on what are the things they could change in order to move these stickies to the next stage in the eco-cycle.

Each team receives 3 minutes to reflect on what they would do differently from now on. The same person presents the action points to the other teams.

Closing Stage 2: 10’ Presenting action points

Have each representative of the groups of 4 present their action points

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