Looking at the past can provide clues to improve the future. This is the essence of retrospective meetings. Retrospectives have become a mainstay among teams using Agile and Scrum methodologies. It involves reflecting on the latest Sprint or project, what went well, recognize what needs to be improved, and celebrate the team’s success. It can also be used to review status or a problem scenario. Retrospectives meetings direct attention towards a few key questions, these are:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What have I learned?
- What still puzzles me?
Importance of Retrospectives
Retrospectives are instrumental in building team spirit and trust. It also helps identify risks and obstacles early so that they can be solved with ease. The agile principle of “learn and adapt” can be implemented. This enables continuous improvement and the ability to adapt to change.
1. Set It up
Organize the meeting, assign the Scrum Master role to an able person and determine who needs to be invited.
2. Define the Objective
To ensure that the meeting is effective, state the objective in precise terms. This helps attendees understand the focus of the discussion.
Conducting a Retrospective
1. Break the Ice
In order to promote interaction among the attendees, an activity can be conducted. The activity is chosen based on the unique characteristics of the team. This helps attendees feel involved and creates an environment where opinions can be shared without fear.
2. Gather Information
Encourage attendees to share their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. This is where you gather insights and seek improvements. You can also check the team’s morale during this stage. There are many activities that can be used such as Start, Stop and Continue, Timeline, Paint Me a Picture, etc.
3. Determine Topics for Discussion
Use clearly defined criteria to determine topics for discussion from the pool of gathered data. Data can be grouped into clusters based on similarity and these clusters can be discussed. Attendees can also be asked to vote and the topic with the most votes will be discussed.
4. List Action Items
After generating useful insight, list out the next steps that have to be performed. Assign each action item to a specific person. Also, mention the date by which the action has to be completed.
Pitfalls to Avoid
1. Don’t Focus on an Individual’s Mistake
This goes against the intent of the meeting. Focus on collaboration. Determine why the mistake occurred instead of blaming individuals.
2. Remain Silent
All attendees must express their opinions. Issues have to be discussed in a rational manner so that all issues are addressed and solved.
3. Unstructured Meetings
These do not yield positive outcomes. The stages have to be clearly defined to have a productive meeting.
I hope this helps you address the most important questions during a retrospective, that is, what went well, what didn’t go so well and what you need to start doing. You can focus on continuous improvement and drive change. Your meeting becomes productive as you assign action items derived from your discussion.