Agile in practice – Retrospective

Retrospective (Latin retrospectare – look back) – meeting crowning the sprint. The basic idea of the retrospective is to analyze the past, stop, to think about and correct the chosen path and improve it if necessary. The first step is to look into the past, and the next step is acquiring knowledge and drawing conclusions. However, the retrospective does not need to be used only to correct the path taken. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of current successes, and thus may increase the motivation of the team. At the same time, the retrospective is part of risk management. Thanks to the analysis of the chosen route and possible corrections, the risk can be identified more quickly and managed better [1].

To bring theory to practice, we brainstormed in our team and attempted to present our experiences of the last element of the Agile ceremonial.

What are the benefits of a well-conducted retrospective?

The main benefit of the retrospective is to identify problems that occurred during the sprint in the team and at the same time external factors that hindered the achievement of the sprint goal. Thanks to this there is a chance that we will find solutions and the next sprint will be better.

The obvious benefit is to clean the atmosphere inside the assembly. Clashes, for example, occur at the communication level between Product Owner and developers, or fontend developers and backend developers. In retrospect, you can talk about it in an atmosphere of peace and honesty without the pressure of deadlines. The retrospective can help rebuild the team’s team spirit for the next sprint and confirm a common understanding of the team’s and company’s goals.

What is usually the most difficult in a retrospective?

Not always communication with people is easy. In retrospect, honesty and openness to feedback are important, and this is not always easy. Sometimes a retrospective requires working on our personality traits and style of discussion. It is also an opportunity to improve assertiveness.

The key to a successful retrospective is to designate an action plan and its execution so that already identified problems do not appear in subsequent sprints and that you do not need to talk about them again.

If the improvements are never implemented, it means that the team has difficulty in making improvements to their work. If, however, despite the efforts of the band, the changes do not bring any effect, it means that the problem may lie outside the band.

How to make the participants of the retrospective openly talk about the problems encountered?

It is important to create the right atmosphere in the form of a separate room, separate time for retrospective and building in the company that this time is intended only for the retrospective of the team. Tools are also important, especially for dispersed teams.

Not everyone talks about problems with equal ease and this is understandable, which is why the support of team members is crucial to those who feel uncomfortable with giving or receiving feedback.

What is the recipe for a successful retrospective?

As mentioned above, it is very important to create an action action plan with points to which the team members will be assigned, so that they are not dead lists.

It is important that the team has a well-prepared, experienced moderator who will conduct the meeting in an efficient and substantive way. This role can not be overestimated, because it is the moderator who cares for the structure of the meeting, time and for the team to focus on the discussion on the chosen topic.

It is important that each participant in the retrospective during the sprint or before the retrospective prepares for it by collecting a list of things that have been successful during the sprint and those that need to be improved. This allows for constructive and substantive discussions during the meeting.

It is also worth using ready-made tools, exercises and games that help improve the retrospective. You can also implement your ideas for this purpose. One such improvement can be, for example, a box to which, during the sprint, you can insert cards with notes that are read during the retrospective.

Do you have other experiences? Share them in a comment.

P.S. Soon, the next episodes of the series “Agile in practice”.

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