Evolve your Retrospective

When I started working with my team in agile, one of the trickiest challenges was creating a good retrospective. Most training and resources will point you to the defaults:

  1. What should the team start doing?

2. What should the team stop doing?

3. What should the team continue doing?

These work great, especially in the beginning but then get watered down with default same same responses (also part of scrum master to NOT let this happen).

I decided to do some research and look around for something MORE. Here are some ideas I found:

  1. What’s the most important thing to have in your team?

First things first, you need to set expectations and team values. Since reading each other’s minds is not an option, everything needs to be said out loud because that’s the only way everybody can be on the same page.
For example, the most important thing for me is to trust the people I’m working with. In this case, trust represents a value that needs to be set up in order to grow a healthy working environment. It could also be something as simple as MUTE your Teams mic, or be on time.

2. What are you missing in your team?

Yet another question reflecting your team cooperation. Maybe, at some point, you felt your teammates didn’t have enough sympathy for you. Maybe you even felt isolated or misunderstood. The goal of this question is to make your team rethink the values that were broken (if anything was broken). This one’s all about those feelings.

3. How can you help your teammates?

Trust me, there’s always a way you can help each other. People connect best in situations where someone shows compassion, especially when it’s without any obligation. The only “obstacle” here is that, in order to create an environment like that, you need to start with yourself.

4. What did you miss during the Sprint?

Maybe there wasn’t enough time, the design was missing or the client just wasn’t available — think about those kind of situations in order to prevent them in the future. Also, ask yourself did you stop doing something that was maybe working before? Reflect on the sprint and think about all those factors that had an impact on it, internally and externally.

5. Is there anything you’re doing during a Sprint even though you don’t know why?

Sometimes people give out opinions on things and they’re doing it not to be harmful — it’s just that they really want to help. But during a Scrum retrospective, no one outside your team should make any decisions for you. Discuss everything and if there’s anything you’re questioning or not quite understanding, say it out loud. Otherwise, chances for making changes are equal 0.

6. Is there anything unexpected you got from a team member?

This doesn’t have to be anything big. Maybe one of your teammates made you coffee because you were super-busy or someone brought you chocolate because you had a bad day. Little things matter and they’re always worth mentioning.

7. Do you want to mention a situation that went unnoticed?

It happens more than often that during a sprint, people are occupied with their work and sometimes don’t even notice what’s going on around them. So, my advice is that if you notice someone doing something nice without anyone acknowledging it, say it out loud. Showing appreciation goes a long way.

8. Did you learn something new?

I think that each sprint or iteration teaches you something new. If there’s something cool you’ve learned and you want to share your knowledge — do it. It’s good to remind people that they are growing each day and that they’re always allowed to speak up.

Now I am the first to admit these are a bit “fluffy” but I think with some tweaking and little effort it can go a long way to supercharge your

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