Retrospection is one of the most important tools in a leader's toolkit. Why?

Retrospection is one of the most important tools in a leader's toolkit. Why?

Because a good Retrospective is a starting point for a profound understanding of business objectives in a project. It adds to the sense of security in teams working in all methodologies, not only Agile.
One of the main assumptions and an inherent element of work in agile teams is the continuous improvement and the implementation of enhancements resulting from the Retrospection.

However, before we delve into the values for project teams, let us define what a Retrospective is.

Definition of Agile Retrospective? Let's figure it out!

In agile methodologies derived from modern management methods, a Retrospective is a meeting to analyze how a project team is working. It can serve as a kind of feedback loop and is a crucial moment in the life of any team. The Retrospective is also a control tool to evaluate the work done, keep an eye on deadlines, and check the progress. It's an event that closes a Sprint held after each Sprint Review. During the Sprint Retrospective, the team discusses opportunities for incremental improvement. It is also a tool for generating Action Points (specific, usually measurable improvements) at various stages.
Last but not least, it is an opportunity to streamline communication within a project team.

How to increase team agility with retrospective meetings?

Improve teamwork with retrospective meetings. The most important benefits of incorporating the Retrospective into a team lifecycle are as follows:

Removing blockers
- it facilitates identification of project, process, and team bottlenecks. The goal is to find things that can be improved to boost efficiency, streamline collaboration and make it more enjoyable.

Creating momentum - in the context of time-consuming deliverables, long processes, and complex tasks, the Retrospective helps focus on the essence.

Providing insight
- it is an occasion to discuss shared experience, analyze how things went, and how they could have gone. It's an opportunity to take a close look at team interactions, examine processes and tools.
Regular work in the Inspect-Adapt loop to check the achievement of business objectives and value delivered to users.

It allows for solving problems and gathering critical information in an interesting and out-of-the-box way. Agile provides some brilliant ideas for activities to conduct at each stage of a Retrospective meeting - for example, feedback and prioritization activities, or creative facilitation techniques. It's a good practice for Scrum Masters to have a toolbox of retrospective techniques to use with their teams.

Feedback - Many of us associate the feedback with negative emotions because we often equate it with critical appraisal. Such perception of feedback can cause friction within a team, deteriorate relationships, and weaken the sense of collaboration.
There are many tools to use during retrospectives that help elicit information about the collaboration and work process without making people feel judged. Having regular team meetings and conversations during Retrospectives teaches us to talk about the hard stuff.

Ownership - Discussing and drawing lessons from a previous iteration and identifying specific improvements for the next sprint builds ownership for the project at hand. Accountability develops in team members when they have a sense of purpose and find joy in what they do. Ownership is part of the team culture. It allows for the freedom of making decisions and preparedness to accept the result of one's actions.

It's worth introducing retrospectives as a regular element of project work - even if a team does not operate in Agile or Scrum. If you are committed to continuous improvement, Retro will help you create space for sharing knowledge and experience.
It's a way to boost the performance results and the quality of any project, not only the agile ones!

<<Read more about “Retrospective without Agile” in this article>>

9 tips to conduct a good Retrospective

  1. Keep the purpose of the Retrospective in mind.
  2. The Retrospective sets the dynamic for continuous improvement and refinement.
  3. It is to help you achieve your goal - adapt an exercise to a team and not a Retrospective to an exercise.
  4. A Retrospective helps discover improvements that make it possible to try a different way of doing things.
  5. Every project is a team game - a Retrospective is a tool for building solid teams.
  6. Ignoring the rule of implementing at least one specific improvement can be detrimental to achieving project goals.
  7. Prioritize - you can't implement everything at once.
  8. Make sure that every Retrospective ends with a specific improvement or a resolution.
  9. There is always something you can do better!
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