How to prepare a retrospective

Door Patrick Verheij

A retrospective needs some preparation. You knew that, didn’t you?

Of course you can just gather your team around and sit down for a good ol’ “Start, stop, continue” session if that’s good enough for you.

Alas, most often it just isn’t good enough. You know why.

Consider the following when your next retro is upcoming:

  • Which improvements did you plan for this iteration and how did they turn out?
  • Which waste did you observe the last few weeks? What stood out?
  • Did team members struggle and if so, how?
  • Did team members help each other for the better?
  • What work didn’t get done?
  • What work didn’t get done properly?
  • What work, which was done, caused some emotion?
  • Which team agreements were violated?
  • Did team members remind each other effectively on team agreements?
  • How was the team distracted?
  • Was the customer around and if so, what did he or so do?
  • Did any stakeholders show any interest and if so, how?
  • How did the team work with end users of whatever you produce?
  • Did the team experience noticable joy at times?
  • Which improvements have been on the backlog for a while now?
  • Which patterns of (in)effectiveness do you witness?
  • Did team members challenge the plan and if so, why and how?
  • Do team members still show affection towards the team’s customer and purpose?
  • Any ideas that popped up and turned into spontaneous improvements?

A retrospective will become more effective when data is available. Of course you can rely on whatever comes up during the retro, but does that really provide the deep insight required to change the status quo?

If so, then you are probably lucky to be in a very experienced, very effective team. If not then the team might need some help in asking themselves useful questions. Perhaps you can teach them by providing questions like the ones above and telling them your own honest answers based on what you have observed.

Do everyone a favour and prepare your next retro. Especially when you are leading the team towards agile processes.

If you want, of course. Nothing is mandatory until it’s too late.

Patrick Verheij

06 59 443 447

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