The first round of coaching circles for 2012 came to an end in April; closing with a retrospective as usual.

Feedback from the group in general was that they enjoyed the circles, particularly those new to the group who started with a mentoring circle. All agree a mentoring circle is a good place to start if you are new to Scrum, or new to the coaching circles. These more structured circles give people a good idea of what to expect in future.

There were a few comments about circles that didn’t work as well this round due to a small number of people, which reminded us that these circles work well if the participants are committed to attending all of the session for a particular round. Spotty attendance tends to impact the whole group.

Fueled by some wine and an inspiration for radical brainstorming we came up with some novel suggestions including doing coaching circles while lying on the floor staring at the ceiling rather than other members, bring along our pets (always present at my coaching circles:), and starting our own reality tv show.

So out came the sticky dots for some dot voting on the ideas we thought would most benefit the next round. They were:

Everyone agreed drinks and snacks make circles better so at the start each circle should discuss how they will deal with it, will everyone bring every session, or will it rotate, etc.

We also agreed that sometimes there would be benefit bringing visitors. Although the trust and safety of the circle is important, we thought this time around circle members could bring a visitor to a circle as long as the rest of the group agreed in advance.

Since venues is a common problem, the idea was raised of having a circle type next round where the venue rotates to each person in the circle’s house. This would mean a new venue each time, but would be less onerous on a single person to provide a venue for every session. We will see how popular the idea is at the kickoff.

And finally it was agreed that people enjoy sharing their work stress with like minded individuals and so we agreed that all circles should allow some time each session for people just to unwind and share their current work problems, before tackling the topic for the session.

That’s it. Thanks to those who attended the retro for the interesting discussion. The next kickoff will be on 7 May at Allan Gray, facilitated by Sam, since I will be in Germany 🙂 If you want to join a circle starting in May be sure to attend the kick off. You can signup for the event or find our more about coaching circles.