Key moments technique to build the culture of WE

Previous article defined Agile leadership. Now we ask the following questions: how to naturally and unobtrusively integrate everything described earlier into the  real life of the team and eventually build the culture level 4?

For this, we use alternate kind of Agile retrospective – we call it Key moments (alias, according to Logan, the Mountains&Valleys technique). How it works in practice:

Instead of the classic Agile retrospective where we ask endlessly 1) What went well and 2) What bothers us, the Key moments technique focuses on specific situations – key moments we have experienced and what the impact it had on us. Specifically: did the situation energize us or did it bother us and suck all the energy and excitement out of us? The team therefore learns to put a name on functional and dysfunctional stuff without asserting subjective judgement (e.g. “You never deliver anything on time!”), focusing on the actual impact (e.g. “I had to sit here all night and I disappointed my kids since I promised them we would play. If I knew you couldn’t make it, I would’ve helped you or at least planned it for later.”)

This technique is also called Situation – Behavior – Impact. As the leader, I stay in the position of coach (not judge or preacher), who only observes emotions and impact and helps the team constructively go over all the essentials. That’s how level 4 is about to be built.

These moments are plotted on a graph (on the wall, table,…), where the x-axis represents the time in which it happened and the y-axis represents the range of emotions, from frustrating lows to energizing highs. In the second step, this technique can be used to define the values and beliefs collectively adopted by the team. The moments where members of the team find themselves at the bottom (i.e. experiencing negative emotions) reflect the values and beliefs that are undermined at that specific moment, whereas positive moments are consistent with the established values. In this way, the leader can harmonize members around a common foundation of values and so build a stable level 4.

The level 4 is about relationship among all the members. This technique provides regular hygiene of the relationship between all team members. We typically run it on a quarter or an annual period.


Successful Agile transformation is about new culture (not only a structure) that allows new mindset and new type of relationship to form. It is more about psychology than we may initially realize. No matter how complex structures we created around us, sooner or later we will face inevitable reality – we face our inner self.