Retrospectives for large teams: Retrospective of retrospectives

Agile retrospectives are a valuable ceremony that Scrum/agile teams usually host once per sprint, which could mean twice per month approximately. As the name says, Retrospectives are for the team's reflection and to find solutions to problems presented in the iteration. At the same time, a retrospective can be beneficial to increase the team’s spirit and celebrating the achievements.

Agile retrospectives have their own value, based on the self-reflection that this ceremony allows. But what happens if we need to ensure alignment and learning across multiple teams that have their own retrospectives but work on the same project?

A Retrospective of retrospectives (RoR) also known as Meta-retrospectives, is a ceremony to evaluate the effectiveness of each team's retrospectives. At the same time, it gives notoriety to the state of the retrospective and decreases the existing barrier in the learning process.

retrospective of retrospectives (Source)

What to expect of RoR?

  • Improve collaboration between multiple teams working on the same project: The team interact as a whole and look for solutions together.

  • Increase team contribution in the project: All members contribute with their own point of view.

  • Learn a lesson about the project beyond our own approach: teams learn about other teams and how to face other situations.

  • To handle risks and improve product quality.

  • Product owners, project managers, and other stakeholders can align better the way of working: managing agile projects by stimulating collaboration and self-organization of teams.

How is that possible? Because teams are learning about other problems, the team can understand more about what other teams are learning. Helping them to integrate better their knowledge and to find more accurate solutions.

When is the right time to have a Meta-retrospective:

  • At the start of the project: Before planning starts it is a good idea to check past retrospectives and past problems to determine which is the better way to tackle the current situation and to define effective actions for the coming sprints.

  • When the team is facing repetitive problems: retrospective are usually once per sprint, but if members keep facing the same problems and stuck in the same situation over and over, members need to find a better and deeper solution. The problem could be in the retrospectives themselves.

  • In major deliveries: It could be after 3-6 sprints.

  • When the team needs to improve the current state of the retrospective in a team.

How to host a Retrospective of Retrospectives:

You can host Meta retrospectives in a way that works better for your team. Mainly you need to focus on:

  • Defining the principal topic or a current issue present during the whole project.

  • Listening to the team during the begging and let them guess which topic will be onboarded. Maybe they have a clear idea about the root problem and you can focus the meeting on that.

  • Making the team suggest some topics.

  • Checking out your past retrospective and determine which have been a current problem and how the team has onboarded.

If you have some problems trying to give an accurate follow-up check out our tool Agile Retrospectives for Jira or Confluence. Here you can save all the info from the past retrospectives and individually assign tasks for improved follow-up based on the results.

Do it as you would do it a normal retrospective

Set the stage: All the team needs to understand that this time the retrospective is for checking the state of the retrospective and to evaluate what problems the team has during this meeting. Also is important the assing a meeting facilitator. With Agile Retrospectives for Jira you can assign the facilitator role to anyone in your team.

Gather Data: Verify what is the current state of the retrospective, how the people onboard the problems, if they are compromised with the result, and the solutions. All iteration retrospective reports can be helpful to focus more on the meeting.

Reflect and learning: Like the regular retros, the data is presented and the team discusses the notables issues presented. The team makes its own conclusions and should be motivated to present solutions. Of course, all of this based on Retrospective improvements.

Decide what to do: It is time to make a decision based on the learning stage. With Agile Retrospective you can assign tasks in Jira ensuring a follow-up.

Closing the Meta-Retrospective: The meta-retrospective should ideally be closed by formally converting any improvements or knowledge into explicit knowledge. The closing of the meta-retrospective should be when there are no more factors to discuss or consider.

As you can see, RoR doesn’t have to be difficult, you can make it usually just based on the state of the retrospective. Be aware of the reaction of your team and look for the best option to make them all participate. Having a good state of the retrospective can be very helpful for continuous improvement and collaboration.

If you are trying to make Remote retrospectives, check out our tool, you can input ideas simultaneously and vote to decide better for the team.

Check out some of our tools for agile remote teams: