Team Retrospectives For the Win!

Updated: Feb 16

Retrospectives are often referred to as the life blood of an Agile Team. Rightfully so, they help a team inspect what they are doing in the team construct and fine tune their behaviors to improve in the short and long haul. But the thought recently came to my mind of what really constitutes a good retrospective. I’ve seen games played, maps created, root cause analysis performed and many methods utilized for drawing out the thoughts and ideas of the team. Let’s dive in and discover some important and oftentimes overlooked aspects of this vital step in a team’s evolution with at least one format for a retrospective.

retrospective board

Identify the Wins

  • What has gone well for the team?

  • What have they been able to get completed together?

  • What goals did the team set and achieve from their improvement backlog?

All of these can be the subject of wins for the team and should never be overlooked. A team I worked with a couple years ago had gone through a refresher Agile training and relaunched their efforts as a team to try to be more successful. They had continually not been delivering valuable solutions at the end of every sprint. Within the first couple new sprints, they were seeing work get completed and the feedback cycle with the Product Owner work for the first time in months or longer. They all openly acknowledged how nice it was to be getting valuable work DONE that could potentially be released by the business. Another team I worked with just this past year noticed that when one team member had been out of the office sick unexpectedly everyone else banded together to get the work done that was committed to for the sprint. It felt nice to complete what they had committed to so the Product Owner knew that if they said they would complete something it would get DONE.

  • How has collaboration and teamwork helped your team be successful during their sprint?

  • What specific item can be called out as an example to share with the entire team?

Sometimes it becomes important that the Scrum Master prepares team members for the retrospective by encouraging individuals to share their experiences. I call it “priming the pump”. When a good experience happens, acknowledge it and take note of that situation to potentially be shared during the retrospective. The more that these situations are called out, the more they will continue within the team and become the norm for performance.