How to start
The Five Phases of a Retrospective
Set the Stage
Greet all attendees, break the ice, and ensure everyone understands the session’s goal.
Review the past work cycle: What went well? What didn’t go as well? What could be better?
Group similar ideas into topics, let everybody vote to find the most relevant ones.
Decide What to Do
Group similar ideas into topics, let everybody vote to find the most relevant and define action items.
Close the Session
After assigning action items, make a brief abstract of the session and its outcomes. Thank everyone.
Improve your technique
Before going all in, you might want to get solid foundations to prevent any risk.
Retros for Beginners
In these sessions, the team gets together and looks back on past events or situations to achieve continuous improvement.
They're usually celebrated at the end of each sprint.
The whole team, including the Scrum Master, should join the session.
The Business Value
Business Value is vital in product and project management. There is not, however, a single way to measure Business Value. Still, you should add it as a critical parameter to review.
Reviewing the correct KPIs is a good north-star for your sessions.
Conceiving Action Items to address the issues brought up is vital.
The Prime Directive
Gathering your team to discuss how the past work cycle went is excellent, but it can easily turn into a blaming game, potentially hurting your team’s health.
The Prime Directive sets the correct mood for any Retrospective.
It was first coined by expert Norman Kerth in his 2001 book Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team's Reviews
Post-Mortems vs. Retrospectives
They might sound similar but be careful not to confuse them: Post-Mortems are not the same as Retrospectives. Each one is driven by a distinct goal and dynamics.
A Post-Mortem analysis focuses on studying the failures encountered after a project has been finished.
Retrospective sessions' purpose is planning ways to increase quality and effectiveness, without requiring the project to be finished.
Become a Pro
You can’t expect things to change if you keep repeating the same.
That’s why establishing different scenarios than the old three-question formula is ideal for fostering participation and getting different outcomes.
– The Sailboat or the Three Little Pigs Retrospectives are ideal for creative thinking.
– The Sad, Mad & Glad is a format that focuses on the emotional journey of the team.
- The I liked, I wished, I longed for template will set a positive mindset for discussions.
- The 4Ls is a standard formula that assesses four aspects.
A team review about the past can quickly turn into a hostile discussion on who’s to blame if you’re not careful enough.
Following the basic four-step format is step one, but there are other recommendations you should follow to have practical sessions.
– Don’t end up having to justify why the Devs spent so much time in sapless meetings.
– Plan your sessions and consider throwing some ice-breakers.
- Be mindful about who you invite and what information is shared.
These tips will get you closer to mastering Retrospectives.
The main goal of running Retros is to help teams understand how they can improve.
It’s vital to produce Action Items and follow up on them, guaranteeing continuous improvement.
Always remember to:
– Assign all Action Items to owners, who will ensure they are implemented.
– Keep balance; defining lots of action items might be counterproductive.
- Make sure that all of them get documented in your project management tool.
- Consider creating an Action Plan for enhanced follow-up.
What is a Retrospective?
It’s a session held at the end of each sprint or work cycle where a team gathers to review what went well, what didn’t, and what could be improved for the subsequent iterations.
What is the purpose of Retrospectives?
Its main goal is to foster a continuous improvement culture inside a team or organization, delivering more value in less time.
When is a Retrospective meeting held?
Retrospectives are usually performed at the end of each sprint, which traditionally lasts between two and four weeks. You can set a custom frequency to better fit your needs.
How to do Retrospectives with remote team members?
Our Agile Retrospectives app supports remote and asynchronous work. It’s available on Jira, Confluence, monday.com, and Trello, so any team can benefit from its customizable features.