Retrospective? Our project managers have firsthand experience
with these practices. Here is a blog post by our charming
project manager Vania (AKA Ivanna).
Retrospective is one of the methods used in web development, which includes a regular inspection of the things learned and done, as well as the correction of identified faults. It is one of the components of the famous Agile methodology, and an important element of a sprint. Its main aim is process improvement.
In today's article, we will give some useful tips on how to do a retrospective. A retrospective is useful, above all, for looking back and discussing what has been learned over a given period, assessing what has been done and what can be done better, and then making the right decisions for the future. It's a constant series of steps, and the retrospective serves as a transition from one step to the other.
Only after the logical wrap-ups and conclusions for each sprint can you improve the next sprint and optimize the work.
So, here are a few tips for engaging all the retrospective participants so they don’t slip into bored clichés or drop off to sleep right at the meeting.
1. Use visualization
To describe the problem and improve the discussion process, visualize it. Even when the team is aware of the problem before the meeting starts — illustrate it once again. Use screens, wall boards, colored stickers, markers, paper notes, etc. There are many possibilities — select the option that your team will appreciate most in a given situation.
Go through a summary of the details of the project. These can be graphs, diagrams, custom reports, or Agile metrics — for example, Burndown charts. They can clearly show where there was some lagging in time, deviations from the plan etc. This makes it easier to find the reason why things slowed down.
Our team uses Burndown charts that show the real picture and lets us monitor whether we are finishing everything in time before the end of the sprint. Moreover, such visual aids can be useful to customers as well. For example the product owner may need a Gantt chart as a visual graphical presentation of the work done on any project.
Another, and probably the simplest option, is "start-stop-continue." Each team member expresses an opinion about: "what should be started, what should be stopped, what should be continued." At the end, everyone votes and then there is a wrap-up. This is a quick version of the opinion poll, which will let everyone speak up so no one is overlooked.
3. The lead?
Each retrospective should have a lead. We recommend that the project manager isn’t always the lead. For example, you can “pass the baton” and change the lead every time. In this case, it is important for everyone to remember the retrospective’s goal and take a turn to “navigate the ship.” After all, the main thing is to get the feedback and improve the process on the basis of the gathered information!
And, most importantly: