A retrospective is essentially an efficient meeting where a group of people gather to analyze problems or ideas, and end up with specific solutions in order to improve.
If you do not have a defined reflection process, you risk falling into a work pattern where you repeatedly run into the same obstacles and learn less from your experiences. That is why many teams use retrospectives to continuously improve.
Who is it for?
Retrospectives is not constrained to only provide value to leaders or a certain type of team. The fundamentals and benefits will provide value to any team who want to evolve and collaborate better together.
Here's a quick guide with a few tips to run efficient retrospectives
1. Getting started
Generally a team run retrospectives every two weeks, and spends 1-2 hours per retrospecitve. We typically use these roles to run effective retrospectives:
Facilitator - The facilitators role is to create the retrospective and guide the members through it. Try to create an environment where everyone feel safe to speak up and share their insights. The facilitator should also keep the discussion on track.
Technographer - Basicly the facilitators sidekick. Responsible for showing relevant information to others and writing down possible actions during the retrospective.
Teammember - Every person in the retrospective can contribute with insights. That could be a new idea, a problem you want help to solve or perhaps you are the one helping someone else to solve something they struggle with.
Tip: In a retrospective you want engagement, creativity and a problem solving mindset. That is why you should consider to kickstart your retro with a warmup exercise.
Gather your team and give everyone 5-10 minutes to reflect on the previous work period. In this example we are using a well known activity called “WWI”. Every team member reflects and writes down notes based on these categories:
Tip: Don't use the same activity over and over again. Mix up the activities to view the past work period from different angles and keep your retrospective fresh.
The next step is letting everyone present their notes to the rest of the team. The reason for presenting the notes is to create common ground and get a better understanding of the previous work period. Everyone will have the opportunity to say his or her reflections, while the rest of the team listens.
If you want effective retrospectives let one and one person present without interuptions. Keep it short and focused, there will be time to elaborate and discuss later.
In many retrospectives, there will be multiple notes about the same subject. Grouping these notes saves time and gives you a better overview, especially if there is a substantial amount of notes. We recommend grouping because it prevents the team from wasting time discussing the same topic at multiple intervals.
To ensure that you focus on what is most important for your team you can use voting. Everyone get the same amount of votes and choose what they want to address. That way you can go through the top prioritized subjects first.
Usually the discussion is the most time consuming part of a retrospective. The goal with the discussion is to find new and better solutions to our challenges and bring forth new ideas. During the discussion the team seeks to understand why problems occur, how they affect the team and how to deal with them.
A common mistake is just discussing the problems and challenges the team is facing, without making any specific actions. While you're discussing, it can be smart to note down possible solutions. If everyone agrees on a solution, create an action.
Remember the goal of the retrospective is to come up a list of actions the team can follow and implement in order to improve. We strongly recommend that you try to create valuable actions by making them specific, achievable and possible to accomplish.
6. Action list
The outcome of a retrospective is the action list. It contains actions the team can complete in order to improve.
Tip: It is important to make the actions visible for everyone. Visualising actions will increase the focus on actually making the improvement we want.
7. Improving the retro
We recommend spending a few minutes at the end to gather feedback on the retrospective itself and how it can become better. You can ask the participants to say in one sentence what they think worked well and where it is room for improvement.
After the retrospective
After the retrospective it is time to execute the actions we agreed upon. Completing actions results in desired changes that makes us improve as a team!
Feel free to try the Evetro application for your next retrospective.