What is an agile retrospective?
The agile retrospective focuses on four areas:
- What went well?
- What could have gone better?
- What do we want to try next?
- What puzzles us?
Depending on the type of project, this project review technique is sometimes called an iteration retrospective, sprint retrospective, or scrum retrospective.
Why do an agile retrospective?
Regular agile retrospectives are a cheap, fast, and effective way for project teams to improve continuously. They:
- Provide dedicated time to reflect, analyze, and decide on how to do things better.
- Provide a forum to celebrate success and progress.
- Improve team communications and create an opportunity to “clear the air.”
- Address issues regularly, eliminating problems sooner rather than later.
- Bring everyone up to speed on current challenges and goals.
- Empower teams to solve problems, develop solutions, and own their decisions.
- Provide an opportunity to reach consensus on future actions moving forward.
- Offer a great opportunity for team building and energizing the team.
Who should do an agile retrospective?
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.
Agile retrospective template
What went well?
Questions to ask:
- What were you pleased with?
- What produced good outcomes?
- What tools and techniques worked well?
- What things should we continue to do?
- Any praise or thanks you want to give to team members?
What do we want to try next?
Questions to ask:
- What haven’t we tried before that could work?
- What one new thing would you like to try?
- What new approaches should we experiment with?
What could’ve gone better?
Questions to ask:
- What went wrong?
- What is not delivering value?
- What areas do you see for improvement?
- What didn’t go as expected?
What puzzles us?
Questions to ask:
- What unanswered questions do you still have?
- What issues should we investigate further?
- Are there things we do with unclear value?
How to run an online agile retrospective
Because project team members are often distributed across different locations, running a 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. Having a secure and quick way for people to collect data means you can more efficiently group, prioritise and create action items for continuous improvement.
There are simple steps to set the stage, collect data, prioritize and then discuss action items. The role of the scrum master as the facilitator helps lead the team through the process, removes impediments, ensure equal discussion time and manages the emotional energy of the group.
Clearly define the scope of the retrospective – eg. which team, key focus areas, retro theme
Discuss and populate each section of the agile retrospective template.
Discuss and group any common ideas.
Vote on the key areas you need to discuss further.
Identify actions for each priority idea. Assign responsibility and timeframes to a group or individual.
Share the outcomes of the retrospective, 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.
- Ensure everyone knows who’s attending and what their role is, especially if not everyone is in the same location.
- Restate the objectives of the whole project and how it aligns and contributes to the organization.
- Look at ideas and review progress on actions generated in previous Agile Retrospective meetings and decide which of those to include in this session.
- Define the timeframe and the focus for this session.
Save effort, time and money with GroupMap
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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