What is retrospective?
What is retrospective: retrospective is an opportunity to learn and improve.
Why Retrospective: It is time set aside – outside of day-to-day routine – to reflect on past events and behaviors.
Most Common format?
- What worked well?
- What didn’t work well?
- What are we going to try to do differently?
In non-agile environments retrospectives are sometimes done after a project is finished as a “post mortem” to derive “lessons learned”. Those tend to be long meetings.
In contrast, in agile environments, a retrospective is short and done often (e.g. 90 minutes at the end of a 2-week sprint). Thus the project is still in progress and you can address issues jeopardizing the project’s success in time, hopefully keeping it on track.
Who takes part?
“The team” whoever that includes in your context. In Scrum, it’s usually the whole Scrum team with the dev team, PO and SM. If you have a specific topic that includes/affects people from outside the team invite them to work on a joint solution.
What happens in a retrospective?
A bunch of people come together and discuss how things went in the past and how they can improve. People in the retrospective agree on certain things and improve things
You can take a little more sophisticated approach to the retrospectives and really think about how you might facilitate this meeting so that everyone is heard, people have time and psychological safety to hear each other’s ideas, and they are able to walk away with action items that will improve the situation of the team.
Diana Larson and Esther Derby on their book “Agile Retrospectives“ have broken down the retrospective in the below steps :
- Set the stage
Set the goal; Give people time to “arrive” and get into the right mood
- Gather data
Help everyone remember; Create a shared pool of information (everybody sees the world differently)
- Generate insight
Why did things happen the way they did?; Identify patterns; See the big picture
- Decide what to do
Pick a few issues to work on and create concrete action plans of how you’ll address them
- Close the retrospective
Clarify follow-up; Appreciations; Clear end; How could the retrospectives improve?
We recommend that you think about how you can add activities to unlock collaboration and inspire creative ideas.
What is a retrospective NOT:
- A blame game – Retrospectives are not about ass coverage and assigning blame. In fact, some facilitators start their retrospectives by reading out the “Retrospective Prime Directive“:
Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.
Concentrate on what you will do in the future.
- Just another meeting in which talk is cheap but no change follows – If the retrospectives don’t produce concrete actions or if no one carries them out afterwards, retrospectives are a waste of time.
RETROSPECTIVE FACILITATION GUIDE
- Kicking off with Prime Directive
- Taking a look at what went well and what went wrong to identify what we can improve upon
- A point when the team can stop and reflect to see if they are going in the right direction
- A way for the team to look back and see how they can improve
- A way for the team to celebrate what they have achieved
- At the end of the sprint
- Post sprint review
- All members of the team, including Scrum Master
- Include managers if you have to
- Transparent, allowing free flow of ideas
- High energy environment
- Working agreements in place
- Kick off and let the team members know that they can speak freely (Retrospective Prime Directive)
AGENDA / QUESTION/ OUTCOME
Kickoff – Prime Directive
Explaining role of Prime Directive
To create a “safe space”
Have it on a slide, projecting it
Ask questions around how the sprint went, “larger scale standup”
Better understanding of how the sprint went and how the team can get better, coming up with a list of potential actionable items
Discussion, charts, paper to write ideas/improvements on, candy/chocolate
Decide on what to do
Focusing on improvements
Identify what we can improve on
Closeout the retrospective