The Art of the Retrospective: How to run an awesome retrospective meeting

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The drive to inspect and adapt is one of the most important aspects of agile software development. A great way to bake this approach into your process is by having regular retrospective meetings that engage and challenge the team to solve their own problems and make things better. However, these meetings can be difficult to run well and drive improvement. In fact, many teams sleepwalk through sessions, treating them as a box-ticking exercise that signals the end of the iteration.

Maybe its time we tried a bit harder to make retrospective meetings work?

In this talk, Chris explains how to put together an awesome sprint retrospective. He discusses the following:
* Why retrospectives can be unpopular
* Structuring the meeting to succeed
* Setting the right tone
* Activities to gather data
* Activities to generate insights
* How to decide what to do
* How to manage retrospective actions

Published in: Technology, Education

The Art of the Retrospective: How to run an awesome retrospective meeting

  1. 1. The Art of the Retrospective Chris Smith Project Manager, Red Gate @cj_smithy
  2. 2. Introductions
  3. 3. Introductions
  4. 4. What is a Retrospective Meeting? “Special meeting that takes place at the end of a period of work – usually an iteration or software release. In a retrospective, a team steps back, examines the way they work, analyses and identifies ways they can improve” Esther Derby
  5. 5. Inspect and adapt We will always know more than we know here Retrospective Retrospective Retrospective Retrospective Retrospective
  6. 6. Sprint Retrospectives Retrospective Retrospective Retrospective Retrospective Retrospective
  7. 7. Retrospectives can be perfunctory
  8. 8. Retrospectives can be ineffective Habitual thinking Lack of focus Lack of participation No end product
  9. 9. So… Retrospectives can be unpopular
  10. 10. So… Retrospectives can be unpopular My team are literally allergic to the word ‘Retrospective’
  11. 11. So… Retrospectives can be unpopular My team talk to each other and we fix things when they come up (you idiot)
  12. 12. So… Retrospectives can be unpopular My team/project is special because [reason], so we don’t do retrospectives
  13. 13. So… Retrospectives can be unpopular Let’s not bother Or worse Let’s continue ticking the box
  14. 14. Retrospectives can be awesome Continuously improve Respond to change Think creatively Happier team
  15. 15. I am not a hero
  16. 16. How do you run an effective and engaging Sprint Retrospective?
  17. 17. References Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (Derby and Larsen) Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers (Gray, Brown and Macanufo)
  18. 18. How do you run an effective and engaging Sprint Retrospective? • Prepare well • Deliberately facilitate • Keep to Retrospective Framework • Vary retrospective activities • Track actions
  19. 19. Be prepared Invest time • More in = more out • 2x meeting length
  20. 20. Be prepared Decide • Focus • Duration • Agenda • Plans A & B
  21. 21. Be prepared Gather • Materials • Snacks • Help • People
  22. 22. Facilitate Be deliberate… • Clear • Confident • Aware • Don’t contribute (too much)
  23. 23. Retrospective framework • Set the stage • Gather data • Generate insights • Decide what to do • Close the retrospective
  24. 24. Structuring a retrospective
  25. 25. Activities (or “Games”) • Share information • Encourage participation • Encourage collaboration • Encourage creative thinking • Move things forward
  26. 26. Set the stage
  27. 27. Set the stage Agree a ‘Goldilocks’ goal
  28. 28. Set the stage Agree a ‘Goldilocks’ goal Agree mind-set
  29. 29. Set the stage Agree a ‘Goldilocks’ goal Agree mind-set Hear everyone’s voice
  30. 30. Set the stage: Check-in Everyone answers a question in one or two words: “How was the sprint for you?” “What is on your mind right now?” “What are your hopes for this retrospective?”
  31. 31. In one or two words… How has Agile Cambridge 2013 been for you?
  32. 32. Set the stage: Other activities • Focus On/Focus Off • Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer, Prisoner
  33. 33. Gather data
  34. 34. Gather data Generate shared memory Observations not evaluations Open up space to explore later
  35. 35. Gather data: Team Poll Measure Satisfaction with Teamwork, Quality, Engineering, ???
  36. 36. Gather data: Pair Interviews • Pose a question like “What were the high and low points of this sprint?” • Pair-up, each person to interview the other • Not a conversation; encourage interviewees to keep to the role • Report back
  37. 37. Gather data: Other activities • Timeline • Short Subjects – Mad/Sad/Glad – Stop/Start/Continue • Learning Matrix • Like to Like card game
  38. 38. Generate insights
  39. 39. Generate insights Explore, interpret, analyse the data Look for patterns and themes Think creatively
  40. 40. Generate insights: Fishbone Diagram
  41. 41. Generate insights: Fishbone Diagram
  42. 42. Generate insights: Challenge Cards Two Teams • Challenge Team brainstorms potential problems • Solution Team brainstorms features and strengths of the team
  43. 43. Generate insights: Challenge Cards To Play: • Challenge Team plays a card, solution team picks a card that addresses the challenge • Winner decided and points awarded • If there is no solution, team designs a new solution card together
  44. 44. Generate insights: Challenge Cards
  45. 45. • Each person has paper divided into ~4 sections • Idea added in 1st section • Paper passed to next person who builds on idea Generate insights: Brainwriting
  46. 46. Generate insights: Mission Impossible • Take an existing challenge/goal and change a fundamental aspect that makes it seem impossible – “How do we remove all our technical debt… in a day?” – “How do we add a feature… without writing code?” • Brainstorm • Ask “Which of these ideas would be worth actually trying?”
  47. 47. Gather data & Generate insights: Mission Impossible
  48. 48. Generate Insights: Other activities • Five Whys • Force Field Analysis • Flip it • De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats • Anti-problem • Speedboat • Pre-Mortem
  49. 49. Decide what to do
  50. 50. Decide what to do Move toward conclusions Focus on improvement Identify 2-5 actions
  51. 51. Decide what to do: Prioritize Activities to prioritize: • Dot voting • £100 Test • Absolute order
  52. 52. Decide what to do: Create actions Actions are return on investment Ask: • “Can ‘we’ achieve this?” • “What does success look like?” • “What’s the first step?” • “Who is going to own this?”
  53. 53. Decide what to do: Create actions Not sure exactly what to tackle? Arrange an experiment
  54. 54. Decide what to do: Create actions Team seems unsure or noncommittal? Measure with ‘Five-Fingered Consensus’
  55. 55. Close the retrospective
  56. 56. Close the retrospective Find out how the meeting went What worked? What didn’t?
  57. 57. Close the retrospective: Feedback wall
  58. 58. Structuring a retrospective
  59. 59. Tracking actions • Recorded • In your face • Reviewed • Celebrated • Disposable
  60. 60. How do you run an effective and engaging Sprint Retrospective? • Prepare well • Deliberately facilitate • Keep to Retrospective Framework • Vary retrospective activities • Track actions
  61. 61. References Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (Derby and Larsen) Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers (Gray, Brown and Macanufo) Agile Retrospective Resource Wiki @cj_smithy
  62. 62. Questions? ? @cj_smithy

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