The purpose of a Retrospective Meeting is look back at a project or iteration as a team to identify opportunities for improvement. Retrospective Meetings differ from Post-Mortems in that they are scheduled throughout the life of a project or workstream, rather than only when a project is complete or when something has gone wrong. Retrospective Meetings are critical to help teams reflect on what they have learned, and identify actions that they will take to improve future outcomes. These meetings also help teams to better understand each other and to build morale for the next project or iteration. The Retrospective Meeting template is a tool to help facilitate discussion and capture key points.
What did we learn from this experience that we can use in the future?
- Prepare for your meeting by clarifying the scope of the project or iteration you will be reviewing, and create a list of the milestones or phases. Invite all team members involved in the work.
- Start the meeting by reviewing the scope and the milestones. Have team members reflect on what went well during each phase. Capture all feedback to ensure that everyone feels heard.
- Go through the same set of milestones and have team members now reflect on what did not go well. Make sure to capture these reflections as objectively as possible and avoid assigning blame.
- Based on these reflections, have team members identify potential opportunities for improvement. These may be process changes or other supporting initiatives. Capture these ideas in a way that they are actionable.
- Finally, have the team identify any questions they have relating to potential improvements. These may be hypotheses that people have but cannot yet prove. Capture these as questions that the team would like answered.
- Ensure that the facilitator sets up and maintains a safe space for participants to share honest feedback.
- Consider reviewing your completed Template as the starting point for your next Retrospective Meeting.
- Consider polling participants on their reflections prior to your meeting, and using the results to spur dialogue.
Derby, E., Larsen, D. “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great”, The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2006