What does a valuable retrospective look like?

In my opinion a retrospective is one of the most valuable ceremonies that you can bring to a agile delivery team. The aim is to reflect on the last sprint usually two week cycle of agile delivery and provide feedback and find improvements.

Retrospectives are sometimes overlooked for their value that they provide to a team. Usually for the following reasons:

1. They are not run effectively and efficiently
2. Actions are not taken
3. Action are not actioned
4. Feedback is not captured

The usual method of a retrospective is to get the team to all provide feedback on:

  • What went well? What should we keep doing?
  • What didn’t go well? What should we stop doing?
  • What are you confused about?

One method that I usually use is the happy :) confused ? sad :( boards with post-it notes.

1. The scrum master will re-cap on some of the work in the last sprint along with any milestones or key meetings or showcases
2. The team will spend 10 – 15 minutes reflecting on this and write their reflections down on post-it notes
3. They will then place these on the board for each category
4. After the time is up the scrum master will group the similar items and call them out one by one

This is where the value starts, for each item ask the team to elaborate on the item and explain what they believe will help the scenario, team members will usually chime in and an action will be established to help improve for the next two weeks, it's also a great way to boost team morale when calling out the happy post it notes with plenty of cheers and claps!

These actions should then be tracked by the scrum master and the team, assigned to the relevant team members and actioned as soon as possible in the next sprint cycle.

Here is a good example of the ceremony output with a scrum team I have worked with in the past...

Here is a good example of how to keep track of virtual retro actions (or you could have physical near your stand-up area)...