Among all the sprint ceremonies, “Sprint Retrospective” ceremony gets the least importance even in organizations practicing scrum for years. Reason is simple – you can keep working and survive without retrospectives whereas you are jammed if you don’t plan a sprint as an example.
Why Sprint Retrospective?
What matters is to understand whether you want to be the craftsman who take retrospective breaks regularly to inspect and curates his tools and processes to ensure better product quality after every cycle or the one that believes in producing more without taking a break. We all know who satisfies the customers well at the end!
With the market dynamics changing at a faster pace, businesses want to pop up updates in product features at a tremendous rate while the team strength is fixed. As a result, as soon as the team is on the verge of sprint closure pressure is already mounted to get started on what is expected from the next sprint. The spot being easily missed on these occasions is the sprint retrospectives.
How to do it the right way?
So, what can be done to ensure teams get maximum benefits out of sprint retrospectives?
There is no straightforward answer to this but a path you should adopt to get the desired results.
There is no right day, place and time for sprint ceremonies!
Compromising with the time boxes and schedules shouldn’t be a choice. Sprint retrospectives need to happen on a scheduled day and time in every sprint so that it becomes your habit – a good habit that leads to continuous improvement.
Most of the times, we make slight tweaks to schedules to accommodate and handle a situation. Delaying the meeting for the same day is fine but postponing to other days for the sake of convenience is not recommended because then something else will be pushed and finally the sprint will be delayed as it’s a chain reaction.
If for any reason – it didn’t happen then it makes sense to take a note and write immediately what caused the ceremony cancellation. This note has to become part of your next retrospective.
If you are not lean – you cannot survive
Retrospectives are not meant to express in details the mishaps of the sprint. There needs to be a collaborative environment where the team can keep adding their messages throughout the sprint. An appropriate culture would be to inculcate the habit of taking notes then andthere.The space/page for sprint retrospective should be created at the beginning of the sprint itself. If the team plans to think and write down all their points few mins before the retrospectives then real problems might not come to the picture.
e.g. A team member observed that lately the daily stand ups have been stretching to more than 15 minutes. If he can add this comment on the day 2 itself then maybe everyone sees it and can prevent it upfront.
If somebody has already mentioned a specific point in say “What went wrong” section then others who agree can simple up vote it and maybe also add some action items/suggestion while they are topic about the topic. This prevents waste of time as these notes can be looked at collectively during the retrospective and solution can be agreed on faster – the true lean way of working.
Every sprint activity is everyone’s job
Remember, you belong to a self organized team and shouldn’t wait for invites from the Scrum Master for daily stand ups, sprint retrospectives or any other ceremony.
A simple way to ensure everyone’s participation and accountability is to let a team member volunteer in every sprint as an informal coordinator of events.
A friendly reminder can be sent in the middle of the sprint asking people to spend few minutes and add their suggestions in the sprint retrospective page upfront.
What can be achieved?
if the sprint retrospectives are done the right way its helpful for the business to “measure” based on the information gathered during the retrospectives.
- A holistic picture of the scrum effectiveness from the team’s perspective.
- A track record of key performance indicators. If throughout the year – “what went wrong” section has more content than “what went right” it’s a sign of the need to rethink.
- Insights for business stakeholders on how the team performed over a period of time. This helps the key stakeholders to amend the policies and processes for the benefit of business.
- A solid matrix for scrum of scrums to compare and identify loop holes across the teams. Maybe one scrum time has been complaining of a problem from time to time while the other team have found a solution. Only when everyone shares their pie – the problems can be seen and resolved across the organization.