Retrospectives for any team – agile or not

Retrospective is a meeting in Agile/Scrum that looks at how the team is working together, the behaviours and processes that are undertaken. The meeting happens after each sprint (defined length of time to do the work). I’m a strong believer that techniques from a retrospective can be used with any team to improve their performance, productivity and team morale.

However, if you are thinking of conducting a retrospective for a team that doesn’t work in an agile way you might find the following helpful:

  • The team might not be familiar with the Scrum values such as trust, openness and respect so it might be more difficult to get them to open up about any issues. My solution would be to start the meeting by defining the purpose of the meeting together with the  team. It will be helpful to set a few working agreements (e.g.  one person speaks at a time etc.) to help with the meeting flow. It is interesting to ask the team what they want to happen if someone breaks the working agreement.
  • If the team has never experienced having a retrospective you might be surprised at the amount of things surfacing up during the meeting. My tip would be to carefully manage time and make the team prioritise the issues they want to discuss in detail. It might be better to come up with some actions to tackle one big issue rather than dwell for too long on too many things and end up with no clear actions.
  • It might be a good idea to check mid way through the meeting whether the team is finding the retrospective useful (smiling faces and a great atmosphere doesn’t guarantee positive feedback – I learnt the hard way!) or whether you need make some changes. So instead of having the “retrospective of a retrospective” at the end of the meeting you could do it before lunch or a coffee break to adjust the second half of the meeting.

I will be writing soon about using Lego Serious Play for retrospectives and sharing my favourite techniques – so watch this space!



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