Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More tips for better retrospectives

At last night's Agile Denver meeting, I facilitated an open space discussion and one of the topics was conducting more effective retrospective meetings. The group had some great insights and advice that I'd like to share here. Thanks to everyone who participated!

  1. Rotate responsibility for facilitating the retrospective. Get fresh perspectives and creative ideas. Don't let it get stale.
  2. Hold your retrospective over a happy hour.
  3. Read Agile Retrospectives by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen
  4. Instead of asking "what were the problems", ask "what could we have done better."
  5. Follow through with an action plan. If you have lots of improvements, rank them and work on the top priority issue.
  6. Have a virtual buyer/seller transaction at the end of your iteration to determine if stakeholders are willing to "pay" for what you delivered.
  7. Do shorter iterations - fewer issues to discuss
  8. Set the stage with expectation that it's not about blaming. Participants must describe the effect of the problem, not the person they believe caused the problem.
  9. Take collective team ownership over problems. It's the team's job to help every person on the team.
  10. Start the meeting by having participants write issues on cards, then post them on a wall and group them. This can effectively elicit input from shy people who are hesitant to speak in a group.
  11. Ask creative questions, like "if this iteration were a car, what model would it be?"
  12. Keep a retrospective board where team members can at any time write down issues they want to discuss in the retro.
  13. Is there an elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about? If so, get it out!
  14. End on a positive note. Everyone must say one positive thing.

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