At the Retrospective Facilitator’s Gathering in Fladungen Linda Rising proposed a session on Neuroscience and Retrospectives. In this Linda briefly explained several areas that neuroscience has now confirmed as good for our brains, and therefore good ideas to consider when planning a retrospective. One of these areas was colour.
Something I’m not very good with.
What colour is this?
I have an uncommon level of colour-blindness. This doesn’t mean I see no colour, but I can’t tell the orange, green and yellow post-its apart.
Unlike most people I have no attachment to colours, they aren’t really relevant to me. To be honest they also scare me a little.
There is this whole language of colour that isn’t accessible to me. I know blue is cold or calming for people, but I can’t relate to it. It has led to some interesting situations in the past.
A colourful meeting
There was one retrospective where I had consciously decided to bring colour in. It was something that I felt people liked. So I had a great idea: as people called out words I picked up a new colour from the pack of pens and wrote the word on the flip chart.
Good idea! People like colour and here I was supplying it.
Well, not so much. The energy in the room dropped so fast I couldn’t believe it. The team first passively, then actively, disengaged from the conversation. The whole thing fell down around our ears. The retrospective was scrubbed and I went away somewhat despondent and confused. I had no idea what had just happened and the team didn’t seem to want to dig into it.
Luckily enough one of the team was a good friend. Later on that day, or maybe the next, he took me to one side and asked why I’d used particular colours for the words I was writing.
The only criteria I’d had was the next in the pack, so I told him this.
My friend went on to explain that a lot of the words didn’t match the colour I was using to write them down. The team had found it difficult to separate the word from the colour and so confusion had crept in. Inside of a minute the team had just stopped. They couldn’t carry on with my masterpiece of colour in front of them. It was for all intents offensive.
Lesson learned. I shouldn’t use colour.
So here is my quandary. Linda tells us that colour is important for our brain. Everyone else in the group seemed to agree.
I have no idea about colour. It is a very strange concept. One that I’ve struggled with for years, but simply don’t understand.
However, to improve the engagement in a meeting I need to find a way to incorporate colour into my facilitation.
The only obvious part of the answer at the moment is that I probably shouldn’t hold the pen when it happens.