If you have been running retrospectives for some time prior to 2020, you may be familiar with the follow agenda for a 1 hour session:
It is quite possible that as your team transitioned to working remotely from 2020 onwards, that retrospectives were still run in realtime but in a virtual setting using Zoom/Teams/Meet rather than in person.
Here at Easy Agile where we have flexible work arrangements, most team members usually spend 1-2 days a week in the office, though we now also have team members working interstate who are 100% work from home. As a result, all our teams really value their F2F meeting time whether it be in person or virtual, so we try to maximise that F2F time as much as we can for those important debates and conversations where the entire team can listen and participate in real time.
How Easy Agile uses TeamRhythm retrospectives to maximise team time
1. Team members can add items to the retrospective board anytime during the sprint
The team is reminded and encouraged to add items to the retrospective board at any time during the sprint, whenever it is top of mind. This can be done asynchronously without any time constraints. Items added like this tend to be worded better because it has not been rushed within the timebox of a traditional retro setting. Capturing the item when it’s top of mind ensures that these items are less likely to be forgotten when the team sits down together to run the retro at the end of the sprint.
2. The team self reviews the retro board during the sprint
The team can review the items on the retro board during the sprint and ping the author of a particular item if they are unclear as to the content of the item. With this feedback and over time, Easy Agile teams have learnt to write in a more specific manner where the item is less likely to be incorrectly understood.
3. Facilitators categorize items before the meeting
Grouping and sorting retro items during the meeting itself can often be a rushed and sometimes stressful event, especially if it is left to just the facilitator to do it while running the meeting at the same time. At Easy Agile, the nominated retro facilitator looks at the items of the board ahead of time and uses categories to label and group like-minded items together.
4. Face to face time are primarily for debate and action setting
Easy Agile retrospective meetings now mainly focus on reviewing and discussing those retrospective items already pre-labelled into specific categories, and deciding on what actions need to be taken in order to improve on future sprints.
The timing of a retrospective at Easy Agile now typically looks like this:
Wrapping it up
By encouraging the team to capture any lessons/thoughts they would like to share during the course of a sprint by capturing it as soon as it comes up on that sprint’s retro board, the majority of the time spent during the retrospective meeting at the close of a sprint focuses on meaningful conversations, ideation, candid feedback and debates and more thoughtful actions.
Less time is wasted with the team sitting silently trying to recall what worked or didn't work during the last two weeks and then having to type it out quickly and have it make sense to the rest of the team.
Just one more thing…
By the time you read this, we will have provided users with the ability to add items to a retrospective board directly from the Jira issue viewer, so now the friction to add a retrospective item is reduced by one less step.
And we also plan to provide the option to display any outstanding retrospective actions from previous sprints on the current retro board.
How do you and your teams run retros? Do you have any tips that you would like to share with us? We would love to learn from you as well. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject: Retro tips.