Taking your Retrospectives from mediocre to magnificent

In part one, I provided an introduction to the Retrospective, a vital, but often forgotten agile event. I provided a few pointers on:   

  • How long should a Retrospective be?
  • How to get all team members to participate in a meeting?
  • How to focus in on the most important ‘improvement’ areas unveiled during a Retro meeting?

In this Part II, I’ll tell and show you how you can use VersionOne to manage and excel with your Retrospectives.   

After you’ve interacted with VersionOne to plan, manage, track your team’s sprints, it’s critical that you take the time to capture what’s worked and how you plan on getting better. Learning from the past will set up your team for higher levels of effectiveness in the future.   

Using VersionOne’s top navigation, hover your mouse over Review and click Retrospectives. (Note: Retrospectives are available with the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of VersionOne.)   

Image 1: Accessing Retrospectives

The Retrospective detail window will appear; this is where the ScrumMaster will collect the feedback from the meeting.   

Before the meeting, it’s recommended that the ScrumMaster enter the following information into the Detail section:     

  • Title
  • Project
  • Sprint
  • Team
  • Agenda

Completing this information beforehand will enable the team to align with the meeting goals and begin sharing feedback immediately instead of getting inundated with logistics.   

You might want to consider sending the agenda via email a few days in advance of the meeting. This will eliminate surprises from everyone in attendance, and send the message that when this meeting starts: “it’s time to focus”. If your team is all in the same office, go the extra mile and print out the agenda; it won’t be ignored. The heart of the agenda should not change drastically for each Retrospective; it should stay centered on 3 main questions:   

  1. What did we do well this iteration?
  2. What could have been improved this iteration?
  3. How can we get better?

Image 2: Adding Details

During the meeting, use the Summary section in the Details window to note all of the comments made by the team. Be sure to capture the list of attendees, “what worked well” and “areas of improvement”.    

Image 3: Answering the '3 questions'

Be diligent about taking copious notes during a retrospective session. These details will power your team’s growth for future sprints, releases and projects. Try to push the team for specifics when citing examples. Good: “The detail provided in Story AB was perfect for helping us understand the story goal and objective; it made building the 5 tasks very easy.”
Bad: “I thought the team worked well together this sprint.”   

The good example gives the team a clear understanding of what type of behavior yields high performance. The bad example provides little to no guidance, leaving too much room for interpretation.   

Don’t forget the importance of the retrospective meeting. It only happens once per sprint, yet its value stretches far beyond a specific project, release or product. The more you and your team invest in this session, the stronger you’ll become.   

And don’t forget: Invest in an agile planning and management system to realize the gains from agile. Try VersionOne today.

This entry was posted in Agile Champion, Collaboration, Developer, Inside VersionOne, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Project Manager, ScrumMaster, Sprint Planning & Tracking. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Taking your Retrospectives from mediocre to magnificent

  1. Catherine Schutz says:

    So usability issues when you hit CONDUCT on a retrospective item.

    Good:
    The team can capture new backlog items immediately, this is great.

    Ugly:
    The team can capture issues immediately. Why can’t an issue be added to a sprint and tracked like a defect or story? Once an issue is created there is no process in the sprint to bring visbility or tracking to the issue.

    Bad:
    The team can capture notes IF the retrospective is in edit mode. If I am conducting a retrospective I should be capturing the information but I can’t unless I hit edit.

    The details section states “Select an item from the list above.” why? What is the purpose of the Details section?

    Thanks
    Catherine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>