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How do I create Growth Items and build a team Growth Plan?

The key deliverable from a retrospective is the Growth Plan, which is made up of Growth Items, created by the team to act on the areas that will help the team to grow and to ask for help from Leadership on issues that are outside of the team’s control. Growth Items usually fall into two categories: Team and Organizational. 

We suggest the Facilitator and Scrum Master work together to capture Growth Items for the team during the retrospective and ensure that the Growth Plan is of good quality. Teams should create 1-2 growth items they themselves can work on, as well as 1-2 organizational growth items for Leadership to focus on. You can use Idea Board to brainstorm during the retrospective and team members can vote on which Growth Items to add to the Growth Plan.

Once the Growth Items have been agreed upon, they should be moved to the Growth Plan, which is located at the bottom of the radar results page for the team's assessment. You can do this in Idea Board by clicking either the team or organizational icon at the bottom of the winning idea cards. 

Once the Growth Items have been moved to the Growth Plan, they should then be edited to include additional information. This varies for Team versus Organizational Growth Items and is described in detail below. 


Team Growth Items

Growth Items at the team level are intended to be added to the team's regular work backlog and worked on by the team over the next quarter, or prior to the next retrospective. If the team has taken an assessment previously, visit the items on the Team’s Growth Item tab and revisit any incomplete growth items you may want to readdress or move forward into this Growth Plan.

Team growth items are usually written as stories in the traditional sense. They try to answer these questions:

  • Who will be excited when the work is done?
  • What will they be excited about?
  • Why will they be excited?
  • How will we measure our progress?

This is captured in the following format:

As a “who”, I need “what” so that “why”, followed by a list of ways we’ll measure progress.

For example:

As a development team, we need to increase automated testing so that we can get our code to production faster and with higher and more consistent quality.

We’ll know we’re making progress because:

  • We’ll have an automated testing server set up and running
  • We’ll have an increase of 20% in our test coverage
  • Our number of escaped defects will decline

The key thing to remember with Team Growth Items is that these are usually written at the feature level. You’ll notice that the example above is clearly more than a single sprint’s work, which is the right level for a Team Growth Item. It’s a good idea for teams to avoid choosing work that they could finish in a single sprint, which is work for their regular retrospective. Instead, teams should write feature-level growth items in AgilityHealth, then break those into stories for their sprints over the next quarter during their regular backlog refinement meeting. As a reminder, we suggest 1-2 Team Growth Items are created after each retrospective.

As the team matures, Growth Items can continue to be created for the same competency, but be adjusted to reflect the team's level of maturity. For an example of this, click here.


Organizational Growth Items

Organizational Growth Items take a different approach than Team Growth Items. These Growth Items are pulled into the backlog of Leadership teams, along with Organizational Growth Items from other teams. We’ve found that leaders prefer the Problem / Impact format. In this format, you'll want to answer two questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • What is the impact of the current situation?

For example:

Problem:

The way our teams are organized is causing too many handoffs.

Impacts:

  • It takes us three sprints to get the finished product out the door now when it used to take just one.
  • Each of the three teams has conflicting priorities when viewed collectively
  • Coordination of the work now takes up 30% of our time
  • Each team had to do rework on three separate occasions last quarter when the final product was assembled

Whenever possible, the impacts should have real data in them. If you don’t have that data when you’re writing the growth item during the retrospective session, put an X placeholder in and revisit it later. The more data you can provide, the more useful it is to the leaders reviewing the growth items. As a remember, we recommend teams create 1-2 Organizational Growth Items after each retrospective.

Note: Be sure to leave the Status as "Not Started" for Organizational Growth Items. This will allow them to be pulled into the Leadership Team's backlog. 


Ways to Create Growth Items

To get to the Growth Plan during a team's retrospective, start on the Teams Dashboard. Find the team and click on their name or avatar to get to the team’s Assessments Dashboard. Then, hover over the radar image for the correct assessment and click on the Growth Plan chart icon to get to the Growth Plan section. You can also just click the radar image to go to the assessment results page and scroll down to the Growth Plan.

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There are several ways to create Growth Items.

1. If your team is using Idea Board during the Retrospective, you can move the Growth Items you brainstormed into the Growth Plan automatically by clicking either the team or organizational icon at the bottom of each card. 

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2. You can also create a Growth Item in the Growth Plan section by clicking the Add New Item button.

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3. If the Growth Portal is enabled for your company, the team has the option to pull recommendations from the Growth Portal into the Growth Plan. This is helpful if the team is looking for best practices or needs some guidance to get started.

You can get to the Growth Portal by clicking on a competency name on the radar (the innermost ring of the radar). In the modal that pops up, there is a Growth Portal button.

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Once you're in the Growth Portal, the Recommendations section for many competencies has a "Pull into Growth Plan" button that will automatically add the recommendation to your Growth Plan as a Growth Item. You can then edit that Growth Item as needed. 

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4. When you click on a competency name on the radar (the innermost ring of the radar), in the modal that pops up, there is a green leaf icon. Clicking that icon will open a Growth Plan Item Card for that competency, which you can then fill out and save to add it to your Growth Plan. 

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Growth Plan Item Cards

A Growth Plan Item Card has several required fields including Title, Status, Priority, Category, and Competency Target(s). These fields are important to provide clarity on what the issue is, whether the team has started to work on it, whether it is something that the team can work on (Team) or is escalating to leadership (Organizational), and how critical the issue is.

Choosing a Competency Target will allow you to tie the Growth Item to a specific competency(s) in the assessment and measure the team's growth in this competency(s) over time. The remaining fields are optional but should be filled out as completely as possible. 

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Executing the Growth Plan

Once the Growth Plan is established, the Scrum Master should Execute the Growth Plan by pulling Team Growth Items into the team's regular iterations/sprints. 

If the integrations feature is enabled, team members can easily sync growth items with the category of Team created in their retrospectives or from their team's growth item dashboard to their Jira board. Growth items can then be managed in the team's Jira board, along with their stories and tasks. Updates made in Jira to these growth items will be synced back to AgilityHealth automatically.

Organizational Growth Items will be pulled into the Leadership team's backlog. 

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