Where Technology Meets Collaboration


Business Insider had just completed a more than year long, software development initiative. A retrospective of retrospectives was in order. The scrum master wanted it to be off site, in a fresh environment, fully interactive and to utilize a digital process.


This scrum team typically works with paper sticky notes and tape on whatever wall is available. There are a number of challenges they encounter with this process. The number of walls available is limited. Sticky notes fall off the wall.  Organizing and reorganizing ideas is onerous. Capturing results is usually a cell phone photo that is difficult to read and a team member is assigned to transcribe. The one remote participant is relegated to view only mode and can be alienated by the process.


We hear quite frequently that organizations have frequently been too quick to purchase new solutions. Many discovered very quickly that what sounded like the perfect tool was less than what they had anticipated and adoption failed. We encourage our clients to be cautious, make educated choices and then arrange for the support their users will need to effectively utilize the solution. It is our goal to recommend the right solution and then to assure that clients realize a return on investment. As a result, an important aspect of our work is to introduce teams to new technologies.


Working with Phi Services for our project retrospective was the best decision I could have made. They are not only subject matter experts on the collaborative software, but also helped us maximize our time and gave very useful suggestions on how we make our group sessions efficient.





In this case, we spent a full day facilitating their retrospective and roadmap session on a dual Span System, so they could “kick the tires” on the system. There were approximately 20 people, including one remote participant and their scrum master. We chose Span because it is outstanding at digitizing the analog sticky note process and exceptionally intuitive. It also has a feature called QuickShare that allows anyone, without having to log on to the software, to quickly and easily add digital sticky notes and images to a canvas from a cell phone. Since this was a large group, we knew that when the session required quick ideation, this feature would be important.

The transition from presentation to trusting Span for collaboration happened quickly. The dynamic changed when they walked up to the Span wall as a group and contributed to a Start – Stop – Continue retrospective. The group could not stop commenting about how easy it was to use. They realized immediately that there were many other uses they could identify. When they wanted to gather ideas for high points/low points, followed by what they could improve, they used Quick Share. They were able to contribute in a very quick, efficient way. The dynamic changed from recording ideas to getting their thoughts out quickly and then discussing and elaborating on important points they had contributed. They are a close knit, rather fun loving group, and active collaboration suited their style extremely well. The one remote participant said it was the first time he felt fully included. The ability to export the content they created as a spreadsheet eliminated transcription.

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