Experimenting with Retros
Recently, I’ve been reading and learning more about how to run good retros.
I’ve found some great articles online which have inspired me (see the useful articles at the end of this). I’m always trying to learn new ways to improve the way I work, which in turn helps others improve the way they work. A retrospective is very useful to gain the opinions and thoughts of others on what went well on the project and not so well — things we can learn from for next time.
So, after researching, I came up with this way of running a retro from start to end. This was at the end of a project, after go live, so it was a biggie!
Here’s a breakdown of the way I ran it:
Find a date and time in the calendar where all members of the team are available.
Book the room 15 minutes prior to the planned retro time for preparation of the room and to gather your thoughts. I also pre-wrote some post-it notes ready to kick off and encourage others.
Create a Google form — After planning in the retro on a set date and time I created a google form and sent out to the core team who worked on the project.
- Ask what went well, what could be improved & any other comments
- Send electronically then talk with individuals to ask them to fill out the form
- Give a deadline date
Questions — I then sent out an email to the team containing a list of questions they need to think about before the retro to get them in the frame of mind and prepare answers of things that they want to raise. (I found these questions on other blogs and useful docs on DPM).
In preparation for the Retro today please can you all have think about your answers to these questions. In the session we will all choose a few questions and write on post-it notes the question and answer to share with the team:
Are you proud of our finished work? If yes, what made it great? If no, what was wrong or missing?
Which tools or techniques proved to be useful? Which not?
What did you learn about working with this client?
What important decisions were made during this project?
What compromises were made? (Things that might look like a mistake but were done for a reason.)
What was the most gratifying or professionally satisfying part of the project?
What did we do well, that if we don’t discuss we might forget?
What helps us to be successful as a team?
Which of our methods or processes worked particularly well?
Where did we get lucky? What can we do to ensure we succeed if we aren’t so lucky next time?
What was the biggest impediment?
Which of our methods or processes were difficult or frustrating to use?
What was painful but necessary?
What’s still keeping you awake at night? What did we leave unresolved?
What still puzzles us?
What was unexpected?
Well, there are a-lot of questions there and you’re probably thinking “she sent a google form already, then an email, will people actually read it?!” My same thought, but the email was really to set the expectation for the retro and help people have some time to get an idea of what they would say.
Write on a whiteboard:
Write up a few points for what the retro is for and what we want to achieve from the time together. A few of the basics usually covered.
Provide post it notes, pens and printed out questions (from the email).
Using another white board or wall space, draw up 3 columns — Keep, Learned, Bin.
Give the team 10minutes (use a timer) to complete at least 4 post-it notes each. Using the questions, each person is to write down the question & their answer. This should be done without conferring.
Talk — Once complete, invite each team member, in turn, to stand up at the board and read out their opinions. The team then decide which column to add it to.
During the session, when each person is reading out their answers, it naturally sparks other conversations. Make sure you write up anything else that surfaces!
Goals — Once we had finished, and got everything of our chests, we then focused on what we intend to aim to improve for our next project.
It’s important to think of goals that you can put into action, that are realistic and achievable (with some planning). Also, not too many, 3–5 is plenty.
Finally — Get someone to take a photo of the team (including you) as memorabilia, with their happy faces!
Retrospective from a Hat
Note: this retrospective technique introduces fun into retrospectives via gamification. For an example of another…
How to Run an Agile Retrospective Meeting with Examples
Instructions and variations on the classic team retrospective. Popular with agile developers, but not just for software…
The Realtime Retrospective - Emily Webber
Reading Time: 2 minutesThe realtime retrospective is a way of capturing feedback or information to help improvements in…