An agile retrospective is a short meeting for project teams to reflect on the most recent stage of their project, analyze their processes, and identify things they can do better moving forward. Regular agile retrospective meetings support constant learning and improvement over the life cycle of the project.
The agile retrospective focuses on four areas:
Depending on the type of project, this project review technique is sometimes called an iteration retrospective, sprint retrospective, or scrum retrospective.
Regular agile retrospectives are a cheap, fast, and effective way for project teams to improve continuously. They:
The agile retrospective is best known as a tool for agile software development teams (including scrum, extreme programming). However, it is broadly applicable to any project.
What went well?
This quadrant identifies those things the team feels they are doing well and should continue to do.
Questions to ask:
What could’ve gone better?
This quadrant identifies those areas that are creating problems or can be improved.
Questions to ask:
What do we want to try next?
This quadrant includes good ideas or innovations the team wants to try.
Questions to ask:
What puzzles us?
This quadrant includes those things the team doesn’t understand or questions that are unanswered.
Questions to ask:
Because project team members are often distributed across different locations, attendance at regular agile retrospectives may prove difficult. Using new tools and approaches other than the usual sticky notes and whiteboards become necessary.
Software that facilitates simultaneous online brainstorming and collaboration such as GroupMap, really come into their own in these situations.
The time to run an agile retrospective meeting will vary depending on each project. However, there’s no reason why you can’t identify and prioritize issues and develop an action plan in 30 minutes.
Clearly define the scope of the retrospective – eg. which team, which timeframe.
Discuss and populate each section of the agile retrospective template.
Discuss and group any common themes.
Vote on the key areas you need to take action on.
Identify actions for each priority idea. Assign responsibility and timeframes to a group or individual.
Share the outcomes of the session, including the action plan, to relevant stakeholders.
Revisit the “Prime Directive” to lay the ground rules and establish expectations for behavior during the meeting.
Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.
Agile Retrospective ideas may be gathered individually or as a group using a whiteboard, sticky notes, Google Docs, or a specialized online collaboration tool such as GroupMap.
Start by capturing ideas for “What went well?” and then move onto the other three quadrants in order. Each idea should be made visible to everyone, and discussed, clarified, and challenged where necessary, to ensure all participants have a shared understanding.
It’s important to drill down to the root cause of each idea and support it with data where possible. That includes things that went well and those which didn’t.
Organize the ideas by removing duplication, combining those which are thematically similar, and discarding any which aren’t in scope.
The final statements should be specific and actionable, rather than just general opinion.
Now the agile retrospective template is fully populated, the team votes on which ideas provide greatest opportunity for improvement and therefore should be actioned.
The usual method of voting is to give each team member between one and five votes which they allocate to those issues they feel are the most critical to address. The result is a visual indication of the team’s priorities.
Develop solutions for priority issues and identify what actions to take. The key to this step is to focus on a few critical activities that can be accomplished with the resources available, rather than try and solve everything all at once.
It’s important to assign measurable goals or success criteria to each action so progress can be assessed in subsequent meetings.
Distribute the final report on the session with the associated action plan to the team members. Ensure all participants are clear on what needs to happen and by when. This report provides the roadmap for the next stage of the project and a starting point for the next retrospective.
GroupMap automatically generates visually appealing reports and action plans in several formats for distribution, saving time and effort after the analysis.
Getting your best people together to work on strategy is critical to the success of your business. But group activities have an opportunity cost and it’s essential to optimize your time and effort. GroupMap is the effective way to brainstorm, discuss, and decide, and solves many of the problems commonly associated with group activities.
Whether you have your best minds together in the same room, or distributed around the world, GroupMap’s unique technology allows groups of up to 2000 to submit ideas independently at separate times, from different places, in different timezones. Prevent dominant personalities swaying the group, drowning out the opinions of others – GroupMap allows everyone to brainstorm independently then effortlessly combines that information to reveal the full spectrum of ideas. GroupMap templates keep the objective front and center throughout the session, keeping everyone on task. This ensures the activity identifies actionable issues rather than becoming just a discussion on ideas. GroupMap gives you all the group decision making tools you need to prioritize, decide and take action.
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