Whether your team is in-person, remote, distributed, or a hybrid, here’s a checklist of everything you need to consider to run the “perfect” retrospective. After all, if you factor the time and costs into the number of people in the meeting, you certainly want to make sure that everyone is getting value out of the meeting.
What does the “perfect” retro look and feel like?
If you ask an agile team the perfect retro is one where each member of the team walks away feeling
- Engaged – in the process and outcomes
- Empowered – to be able to take steps to improve
- Energised – and looking forward to the next sprint
The team has had a chance to properly reflect on their experience, had the opportunity and support to put their thoughts forward honest and without judgment, and brainstormed solutions in a supportive environment.
Bad hygiene factors, however, are numerous and can thwart the perfect retro. From lack of focus and timekeeping, through to indifference and repetition, all add scars onto what would be the perfect face of an agile ceremony. Instead, the experience for the team is ineffective, rushed, tedious, and a waste of time.
Here’s a checklist to make sure that your retrospective runs smoothly.
BEFORE THE RETROSPECTIVE
- Check that the calendar invite has been sent out to the relevant team members.
- Gather any data or summaries from 1 on 1 meetings, velocity charts, health check data or other reports.
- Determine the theme or focus of your retrospectives, then choose the format, activity and voting method. Then create your retro.
- If running an asynchronous meeting, then send out the link before hand.
- Double check the meeting room, web conference link and any other logistics that might otherwise impact your retro.
DURING THE RETROSPECTIVE
- If you want to stick to time, ask for a volunteer to be a timekeeper for the meeting, or use the built in timer.
- Run through the agenda or context of your retrospective.
- It is a good idea to remind the team of any team agreements, the prior actions, or the Agile Prime Directive to help set the tone of the meeting.
- Go through the essential steps of brainstorming ideas, then talk through them. You can group certain ideas together if they are the same. Ensure that everyone can and does contribute something to the retrospective theme.
- Vote on what people most want to discuss further. Votes should be done independently. The number of votes can be changed based on the number of ideas, people , or time remaining.
- Discuss all the voted items and have people propose action items that can be taken forward to the group.
- Capture all action items, agreements and any other comments. If you are using a whiteboard, then taking pictures of these will be needed. Any action items should ideally have an assigned person and due date.
- Keep the meeting flowing by sticking to time and making sure that the retro is not used as a session for blaming or problem solving.
- After completing off any action items, take some time to celebrate the success and share appreciation.
- At the end of the meeting, run a (Return on Time Invested) ROTI to get feedback on the effectiveness of the meeting. This is optional.
- Say Thank you.
AFTER THE RETROSPECTIVE
- Share the action items and meeting summaries with the relevant stakeholders.
- Review notes to ensure that all important items were captured.
- Use an ongoing action list to remind yourself and the team of action items and follow up as needed.
- Reflect on your own practice and effectiveness as a Scrum Master and how you might change what you do for the next retrospective.