Thoughts about retrospectives

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Retrospective is a very important tool in agile development. The purpose of retrospectives is clearly described in the 12th agile principle: 'At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.'
Besides effectiveness, this reflection process brings improvement and innovation within a team (find out more about retrospective benefits here).  Although people may look at it as a side effect, an awesome benefit is team bonding.

The role of a Scrum Master is essential in having a productive retrospective. But it is not enough, as the team members are the main actors in generating content and lesson learned. So keep in mind that the responsibility of improvement lies on the shoulders of the team members. The Scrum Master is just an enabler and generates the right settings for a growth mindset. 

Having this mindset in place is important. Think about it this way.

We gather in a room. We reflect and write down the good and the bad. Then we make a decision and plan actions to improve for the next sprint. This process requires transparency, clear communication, active listening and trust.
Trust that I will not be judged.
Effort to express clearly my thoughts.
Focus in listening to others.
And courage to speak out.

We are digging into to past and some skeletons may be happy hippies, like a successful client meeting or a great demo. Other may have affected badly our sprints. Or our vibe within a project. Or it changed the budget, in a bad way. People can take it personal, feel guilty, become silent or aggressive.

I will share some things I find useful for retrospectives:

Take the same effort to think of the good as you do for the bad. It gives you good energy to invest in sharing the not so good.

 

Communicate assertively, in order to avoid assumptions, blaming or judgement.
Example: I felt frustrated when the initial requests were changed 3 times.

Ask teammates how would they approach things from their perspective. It boosts the collaboration and confidence among co-workers.

 

Be in the moment. Focus within the mindset of the meeting, as the content will help you be better at your work.

Focus on the 'I': how can I improve, how can I help, what can I do to make things happen?

Come prepared. You know the drill, make a quick introspection before the meeting. It will help you organize your thoughts and words better.

The best retrospectives I took part of, ended with smiles and claps. There was energy to address the action plan and more confidence in the team. All of this happened because people were focused on how  to communicate better and how to improve issues.

Hope you take all the goods out of it. Retrospectives rock!

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