It’s no secret that retrospectives are essential to any work, including software development. By reflecting on what has been done and how you can improve, you can ensure that you’re constantly getting better at your craft. But if you’ve ever been to a retrospective that didn’t go well, you know that it can be tough to get them right. So how do you structure a good retrospective? At the end of this blog post, it’ll be clear how this is possible.
1. Start with a Positive Attitude
When you’re reflecting on your work, it’s easy to focus on the negative. But it’s essential to start with a positive attitude. What went well this sprint? What are you proud of? Focusing on the positive will help set the tone for the rest of the retrospective and ensure that it’s a productive conversation.
The best way to go about it is to have everyone write down one thing that went well before starting the retrospective. This way, everyone has something to share, and you can get started on a positive note. Besides, it’s always good to remember the things we did well, so we can do more of them in the future.
2. Identify Issues
This is where everyone gets to share what didn’t go well and what could be improved. It’s essential to encourage people to be open and honest about the issues they face. Otherwise, the retrospective won’t be effective in helping us improve.
To make it easier for everyone to share, you can ask specific questions such as “What made you angry this sprint?” or “What prevented you from being productive?” You can also go around the room and have each person share one issue they faced.
3. Use Retro Tools
You can use a few different tools to help with your retrospective. A good tool will help you identify things that should be started, stopped, or continued in the next sprint. For example, if there’s something that everyone is doing that’s not working well, you would want to stop doing it.
On the other hand, if there’s something that only a few people are doing that’s working well, you would want to continue doing it. Besides, some tools help identify the root cause of an issue. To use it, you start with an issue and then ask “why” five times.
For example, if the issue is that people are having trouble communicating, you would ask “why” until you get to the root cause of the problem. Doing this ensures that you’re addressing the real issue, not just the symptom. You can arrange for team ice breaker questions to get everyone talking. With clear instructions, everyone can easily participate, and you can get to know your team better. This consequently leads to a more productive and positive working environment. However, be keen not to ask personal questions as this might make some members uncomfortable.
4. Brainstorm Solutions
This is where you develop ideas to address the issues and make things better for the next sprint. Brainstorming can be done as a group or individually. If you do it as a group, ensure everyone has a chance to share their ideas. If you do it individually, give people time to think about the issues and devise creative solutions.
Once you have a list of potential solutions, it’s time to vote on which ones to implement. To do this, you can use dot voting. Each person gets a certain number of dots (usually 3), and they can place them on the solutions they think are the most important. The solution with the most votes is usually the one that’s implemented.
5. Focus on Actionable Items
The goal of a retrospective is to identify ways that you can improve. But it can be tough to make actual progress if all you do is identify problems. That’s why it’s essential to focus on actionable items. These are specific things that you can do to address the issues and make improvements.
For example, if one of the issues is that people are angry, an actionable item could be to take a break when you start to feel anger building up. This can happen immediately, and it will help address the issue.
Another example is if you find that people are struggling to communicate effectively. In this case, an actionable item could be to have a weekly meeting where everyone shares what they’re working on. It will help ensure that everyone is on the same page, and it will make it easier to communicate.
6. Choose One or Two Items to Focus On
It’s important to remember that you can’t improve everything at once. That’s why it’s essential to choose one or two items to focus on. Trying too much will only lead to frustration and won’t be sustainable in the long run.
It can be helpful to use the SMART criteria to choose which items to focus on. For example, if you find that people are struggling to communicate effectively. In this case, a SMART goal could be to have a weekly meeting where everyone shares what they’re working on. This is specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant. And it’s time-bound because you can set a date and time for the meeting.
So, take some time to discuss which items you want to focus on as a team. Then, make a plan for how you’re going to address them. When your team starts seeing results, it will be easier to stay motivated, and you can always add more items to your list later.
7. Set a Deadline for the Next Retrospective
This will ensure that they get done and help hold everyone accountable. A reasonable deadline to set is at the end of the next sprint. This way, you can see how well the actionable items worked and make further adjustments if needed.
When the deadline arrives, it’s time to do another retrospective. This will help you see how well the changes worked and identify any new issues you need to address. It would be best if you continued doing retrospectives regularly. This will help you continually improve and make your team more effective overall.
A retrospective is a crucial part of any Agile team. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what’s going
well and what needs to be improved. By doing regular retrospectives, you can make your team more effective and improve the way you work together. If you’re looking for tips on structuring a good retrospective, focus on actionable items and set a deadline for when they should be completed.