The retrospective is usually the first thing to come out of the diary and drop to the bottom of the priority list. But inspecting how we're working, with regards to people, relationships, process, and tools, is time well spent.
Retrospectives allow us to learn valuable insights from the team, meaning we're (hopefully) continuously improving how we work and interact with each other.
We are big believers in not leaving retros to the end of a project when there's nothing more you can do to improve the product or process. As they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing, so why not let the team's feedback influence the process and approach as you go?
In an ideal world, you get the key members of the team in a room for an hour or two, but we don't always live in an ideal world, so work with what you've got. To be most the effective, retros need to be run regularly and, most importantly, in an environment which facilitates being solutions focussed. One tool we've found works well if you are short of time or the team is remote, is to use Google Drawing to create a "virtual board", then ask team members to write their comments on virtual cards. You can then spend the (likely limited) time you have voting on what should be talked about and having an open discussion. Our preferred sorting categories are below, as they provoke more positive actions and discussions.
- Do less
- Do more
- Start doing
- Keep doing
- Stop doing
Photograph by Sébastien Marchand — https://unsplash.com/photos/EeEx8zpOESA