Retrospective

This post belongs to this root post and may be out of context if it is read separately.

The retrospective is a meeting during which the team discusses about the last three or four weeks. This is a conversation about factual subjects surrounding our work as a team. What did work? What did not work so well? What can we improve?

 

The rules

It is very important to remember that the subjects must always refer our work as a team, never the work of an individual. It is not a place where to criticize each other, but a constructive place, where we presume everyone did their best.

 

The dynamics

There exist several retrospective dynamics, let me illustrate some.

One of the dynamics I experienced more was the one that uses the blackboard above. Along the sprint, the members of the team collect topics about which we want to discuss. At the beginning of the retrospective, those topics are listed in the column on the left. Then, they are prioritized and one of them is selected.

The conversation about the selected topic starts. During such conversation, we extract positive and negative points regarding the topic. Then, after those points, next actions are extracted.

The next actions are things that the team or someone on the team can activate to solve the issue on the discussed topic.

One month later, in the next retro, we’ll check the next actions that where set the last time, and see if we can extract lessons learned from them.

 

However, the structure of a retro must be adapted to each circumstance.

The last year, Devscola organized the Global Day of Code Retreat in Valencia, where I was the facilitator. The event lasts one day and attenders are not members of a team, therefore the dynamic mentioned before may not work.

So for this case, we drew a set of boxes on the white board, each one containing a motivating sentence like ‘things that I learned…’, ‘What I liked…’, ‘What I’d like to change…’. Then, we distributed post-its among attendants and just let everyone paste their thoughts and wishes. After that, we had a casual conversation about such feedback. This worked great so far.

You are welcome to share your retro dynamics in the comments below!

 

The facilitator

Retros are usually moderated by an external facilitator. This person must guide the conversation without getting involved, just like the moderators on TV debates. She is in charge of helping the team whether the conversation reaches a dead end, preventing someone from monopolizing the speech, actively involving quiet people on the debate, etc. Also she must manage times, warning the team if we’ve been talking about a single topic for maybe too long without reaching any conclusion, or if the timebox set for the meeting is about to finish.

 

Conclusion

The goal of the retrospective is to strengthen the alignment of the team, improve our processes, collect feedback, but also allows us to resolve conflicts, inside an intimate space dedicated to honest and constructive conversation.

Go back to the root post to read about other Agile techniques.

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