A beginner’s guide to Agile retrospectives
What is a retrospective?
An Agile retrospective is a team meeting held in an Agile environment to inspect what happened in the earlier sprint. The purpose of a retrospective is to reflect on the work in a sprint and identify ways to improve going forward. Based on those conversations and learnings, the goal is to increase efficiency for future processes.
It’s vital for teams to meet after each sprint because sprints are designed for teams to finish work and ship products as quickly as possible. Without regular examination, processes might become sloppy and lead to lower product quality.
During the retrospective, the team should examine these three main points:
- What went well and how to replicate that
- What went wrong and how to improve
- What to focus on in future sprints and if these items should be added to the backlog
How to run a retrospective
The retrospective facilitator, often known as the Scrum Master, is responsible for running the meeting and keeping it on time. Since Agile retrospectives are held regularly, they’re typically kept brief (around one hour). These short –but mighty meetings of productivity are structured so that team members can continuously improve processes and get back to work.
Here are the five steps to running an effective retrospective meeting:
- Set the stage. Briefly welcome the team and remind them of the meeting goal. Get the team ready to engage with a brief warm-up activity.
- Gather data. Have the team contribute their data points and create a shared picture of what happened by reviewing the information together.
- Generate insight. Talk about what caused the iteration to unfold as it did. The purpose is to understand and accept major factors that led to the project’s progress. Then discuss what was successful and identify any roadblocks.
- Decide what to do. Brainstorm solutions and changes to team processes. Identify the highest priority items to work on and put measurable goals on those items so they can be completed.
- Close the retrospective. Formally end the meeting and thank the team for their ideas. Recap the top items discussed and the action items decided.
What makes for a healthy and productive retrospective? Participants shouldn’t speak over others or get into shouting matches. There should be an atmosphere of mutual trust so team members can feel comfortable enough to speak up. Everyone should also be attentive and prepared with their notes.
Get started with retrospectives
Agile retrospectives are a useful opportunity for inspecting faulty work processes and brainstorming better ones. When you’re ready to get started, gather your team and follow the basic steps outlined here.
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