Three tips for running better retrospectives.

October 14, 2019

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to make it up I can let you dunk over me


Operations Director

At the end of a project, digital or not, it’s good practice (and useful) to run a retrospective. Why do we have retros? From the Scrum Guide:

The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint. … The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to:

  • Inspect how the last Sprint went with regards to people, relationships, process, and tools;
  • Identify and order the major items that went well and potential improvements; and,
  • Create a plan for implementing improvements to the way the Scrum Team does its work.

From our experience here at Reason: three quick tips to potentially help the retrospectives you run just a little bit better

1) Add a timeline:

Start by working out the exact duration of time you are retrospecting. If you’ve implemented the spirit of scrum and not the letter of scrum, this timeframe might vary. Take 3-5 minutes to talk with the team through that full time frame. Often we will only really remember the really raw good things and bad things from the last few days - it’s human nature. By talking through what happened during the (for example) full month or 2 weeks you are retrospecting, you give people the chance to remember things in the order they happened, and draw out experiences that may otherwise have been forgotten in the overarching ‘outcome’ feeling.

You can use a small timeline at the top of your normal retrospective board to draw on or place notes. Mark the start, end, and all key dates too if this helps.

Retrospective timeline - landscape

2) Limit your actions:

Don’t feel like you have to have a big list of actions at the end of a retrospective that have to all be assigned out to people. If the items raised are important, see if anyone wants to volunteer to take on an action - if no one does, maybe they are not important. There is great value in the process of the retrospective itself. You should not consider it a failure if there isn’t a big list allocated as actions to people!

3) Be kind to yourself and be kind to your team:

What it says on the lid. Be kind to yourself and be kind to your team.

It’s up to each teams to define what their values are beyond the core scrum values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect. The first addition we would make to that list is kindness. Peace out & go well.