“The single most important practice in Scrum is the retrospective because it allows the team to learn about, improve, and adapt its process.” ¹
What is a retrospective?
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.
It is natural that misunderstandings, problems and dissatisfaction occur when we collaborate with others. Many challenges may arise when you are working in a team, but the biggest challenge is being able to do something about them! 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 analyze the way they work, in order to improve together.
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.
What does a typical retrospective look like and how does it work?
In general, a team who run retrospectives will do it every two weeks, and spend 1-2 hours per retrospective. To give you a broader understanding and insight on how it works, here is a brief example of a typical retrospective:
1. Reflect and write down notes
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 method called “Three Questions”. Every team member reflects and writes down notes based on these categories:
- What worked well? - Things you want to continue with, celebrate or do more of
- What worked less well? - Problems and challenges we want to solve and improve
- Puzzles and Ideas - What puzzles you? Is there something we need to explore? Any new ideas?
2. Present and share ideas
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.
3. Discuss, find solutions and write down actions
When everyone is done presenting it is time to discuss. The goal with the discussion is to find new and better solutions to our challenges and bring forth new ideas. When we find new and better solutions it is important to make them visible for everyone. Visualising actions will increase the focus on actually making the improvement we want.
4. Adapt and improve
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!
Keep in mind that this is a very simple description of a retrospective and that there are many different methods and approaches out there.
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- Project Management Instittue and Agile Allience, Agile Practice Guide: Project Management Institute, September 2017.
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