After you ship your product, complete your sprint, or finish an important milestone it's natural for your team to sit back and reflect on what happened. Did everything go according to plan? Were the estimates right? Is there anything we could have done better? Did our customers like the product? By looking back to our previous sprint or our previous achievements we can gather data and understand the root causes of why things went right or wrong, and plan action items for future sprints with this in mind.
What is a retrospective meeting?
A retrospective meeting is an important step in continuous improvement, and it should be held every time you conclude a milestone. Done right, a retrospective meeting can be extremely productive, helping your team identify problems, discuss solutions and come up with new ideas on how to make future releases even better.
With retrospective meetings you can look back, review and recap everything that happened in the past cycle of work. This is meant to provoke analysis, evaluation and examination of our last cycle and revisit all the achievements and mistakes, then with those lessons learned, after our retrospective evaluation, we can create an action plan on how to avoid our mistakes and replicate our achievements in the next cycle. Process improvement and reiteration are what lies in the very core of a retrospective meeting. Future projects can incrementally improve after every sprint or cycle and we can grow incrementally better with each iteration.
How to plan for it
Planning for your team retrospective meeting is very important, you can't go unprepared! The idea is to get team members to talk freely and set up a safe space where there can be honest feedback.
Here are a couple of best practices for your retrospective meeting:
Set a meeting agenda. An agenda gives people a sense of what they'll be talking about and lets them know what to expect.
Get a facilitator. A facilitator can keep the meeting moving and on track.
Give everyone involved floor time. Each participant has a unique perspective to share.
Allow time for discussion. The value comes from the discussion and dialogue. Don't just dump a bunch of statements into a meeting.
Don't let one person dominate the discussion. Give each person equal time. If one person dominates the conversation, it may put the others on the defensive and makes it difficult for them to contribute.
A retrospective doesn't have to be a formal, hour-long meeting. You can hold a retrospective anywhere — anytime.
Get started with this retrospective template
Feel free to use this simple retrospective template for your retrospective meetings!
- What went well?
- What did you learn?
- What needs improvement? (i.e it went wrong, it wasn’t delivered or didn’t go as expected)
Follow this best practice
Learn how to configure this template here: