Retrospectives: Final Words

At the end of each retrospective, your team will probably feel inspired as they may now have a clearer understanding of the issues at hand or because they know that changes that are being put in place that will result in a better process.

However, as humans we sometimes have the tendency to not complete tasks that are assigned to us and as a facilitator it is your job to follow up on them to ensure that they are completed. Therefore, in this last post in the series I would like to discuss what needs to be done after the retrospective as well as some of the ways in which you can keep them interesting.

After the Retrospective

Reports

In order to keep the information gathered organized, you can create a report which details all the findings of the retrospective. Once completed, you can send it to all the team members to ensure that they are all on the same page. Each report can then be seen as a chapter of a book that is part of a bigger story, your project. A quick tip is that you may want to include the Prime Directive in your report. Doing so may prevent people from misinterpreting any comments that may be listed there.

Taking Action

Capturing the actions that were discussed in the report is a good idea. However, just because it is listed there doesn't mean that people will take complete them. In order to alleviate this, you may want to put the actions on a wall or place them as tasks on your backlog so that it is part of your normal work.

Another option that you can do is to create a Trello board with all the actions listed on it. Each action will have someone assign to it as well as have a due date assigned to it, if necessary. No matter what option you choose, the biggest problem you will probably face, at least in the early days, is that people don't keep the board up to date, but by just reminding the team constantly, it will become habit.

To keep a pulse on how the actions are going, you could have a discussion with all the people that have any incomplete actions, after the daily stand up. This will allow you to see if the action will still be able to be completed on time. You should never complete someone else's action unless they need some assistance. Often a simple reminder well before the due date will more than likely ensure that the action is completed.

Keeping It Interesting

Foooooood!

You will be surprised how much a few treats can change the atmosphere in a retrospective. Studies have shown that sharing meals actually helps build relationships between people. If you do bring some food into the retrospective, try to mix it up all the time and opt for bite sized food that is pre-cut and doesn't require and plates or cutlery. Oh, and don't forget the napkins!

Don't forget to try out some healthier options as well, such as grapes, dried fruit, nuts and muesli bars. Some people may have certain dietary requirements, so just keep that in mind. You can also encourage the other team members to bring food to share in the next retrospective or alternate between the people in the team.

In some circumstances, you have no option but to run your retrospective over lunch, which may cause an energy slump. In order to get the creative juices flowing again you could arrange some activities that will get people out of their chairs and "warm them up". When looking for activities, try to find ones that don't make the people compete with each other as this may just exacerbate a "sticky" situation between two people.

Change The Environment

Typically, people fall into the habit of booking the same room over and over again for each retrospective. If you take note, you will see that people automatically go to the same seats and in order to keep things interesting, you should try and find different rooms. If you are unable to find a new room, then try change the layout or arranging the chairs differently in your existing room.

In Retrospect

I hope you enjoyed this series of blog posts and gained some valuable information along the way. Facilitating a retrospective does require some effort but the rewards at the end of the day are more than worth it. Just remember that the true value of a retrospective will only show itself when change happens as a result of the team discussions.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa