Last week I had retrospectives with three different agile teams within 2 days. I love retrospectives and a retrospective meeting is one of the first agile things I try to establish when I start working with a team. Every team needs to get used to the advantages of retrospectives though…
The agenda for retrospectives always includes the following 4 questions:
- What went well since our last retrospective?
- How can we do better, how can we improve our process?
- Is there anything we CAN’T change by ourselves?
- What in detail will we change until the next retrospective?
Besides those questions I experienced that a warm-up at the beginning is more than helpful: Draw a timeline of the past sprint (or period of time concerned in the retrospective) on a flipchart. Ask the team “What has happened in the last weeks?” and then let the team put sticky notes with their answers on that timeline.
The warm-up helps everyone to get their minds focused and it shows that everyone in the team can have a different view of the past couple of weeks.
For teams that work with a Kanban system it is sometimes difficult to see what has been accomplished in the last weeks. This warm-up shows them that a lot of work has been finished.
Maybe you like to try out 2 things I experienced as useful:
- Have a short break after you have answered the first question (“What went well since our last retrospective?”): It could be a smoking break or as simple as just opening the windows to let in some fresh air for some minutes. The team (normally) has just mentioned a lot of positive things, so try to keep the good vibes for some moments! 😉
- Feel comfortable with the silence while the team is writing their sticky notes. Don’t hustle the team when the team seemingly is not writing anything more. Sometimes it only takes a couple of seconds and someone starts writing again.
Read “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great” from Esther Derby and Diana Larsen for different tools and recipes in retrospective meetings.
In the next weeks I will try to write a post about how to get the results of retrospectives done.
[Update Sept. 07, 2011: Done. 😉 Please read How to Deal with Results from an Agile Retrospective?]