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In our company we recently have more and more teams which consider using SCRUM. They want to learn/get a feel of it so looking how other teams work is very helpful.

They'll be joining our daily standups and probably planning meetings. The question I have is what do you think about having someone play a chicken on a team retrospective? Does it break all the rules or can this be acceptable?

In our particular case it would also force us to use English rather than the native language to have any value for the visitor.

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I think the only thing you can possibly do here is ask the team. If any one of them objects for any reason then you shouldn't allow it. The retrospective is THEIR meeting and you should invite "chickens" only if everyone is entirely comfortable with it, and only if you're confident you'll be able to avoid disruption. Allowing other teams to see an effective retrospective could be a really valuable learning tool - but it's not worth the cost of "breaking" the retrospective for your team.

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First, having chickens on retro doesn't break any rules. What more, I would say that seeing how good retrospective works is way more important than attending just a few of standups or even planning meeting.

Second, you should consider the impact of having chicken on retro (or any other meeting) on the team. One issue is of course the language. If everyone's English is fluent enough that you will be able to communicate everything (even if it takes more time) I wouldn't consider that a big issue. However if switching to English means someone would be effectively disabled from active participation in the meeting it may be something worth considering.

Another aspect of the same case is who will be a chicken. I was a chicken once or twice when I was a superior for the whole team and people were all stressed and it didn't work well. If you face the risk that people would censor themselves that's another issue to consider.

Third, think about the big picture. There is of course the context of the team but there is also the context of the whole organization. Even though having chickens on your retros may introduce some difficulties for the team it still can be a worthy investment company-wide. Try to judge the impact of doing such thing in wider perspective.

Finally, you can treat it as an experiment. You can just try it once or twice and if it doesn't work just don't do it anymore.

Having said all that you shouldn't enforce your ideas on team. Try to convince them, but show them the whole context.

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One of the main cons could be that you are forced to use English. This probably would be my main consideration. I would ask the team do they accept chickens like Steve proposed. But this language issue is more important in my eyes.

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  • Hubert, Pawel - yes - that's also my biggest worry (next to violating the privacy of the team a bit) - on the other hand it can't hurt that much if it's done just once, even if they don't bring up something or need to discuss it in a more cultural way right? ;)
    – RnR
    Aug 10 '11 at 12:50

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