Retrospective Best Practice

Master the art of running effective retrospectives with these best practice tips and tricks

Retrospectives are an integral part of any agile team's rhythm and are key to building a culture of continuous improvement.

Retrospectives are designed to help teams pause and reflect on what's working well and to spot areas for improvement.

On this page, we'll share 4 of our best practice tips for getting the most out of your retrospectives.

Tip 1: Optimise the time of day and length for maximum engagement

It is commonly known that retrospectives should take place right after the sprint or iteration has ended and prior to the start of the next sprint or iteration.

This ensures that learnings from the prior sprint/iteration are promptly captured and discussed without losing context, and any learnings can be applied to the next sprint/iteration.

The day and time the retrospective occurs is typically a result of calendar tetris as opposed to anything meaningful.

This tip proposes that we take active measures to ensure that we're holding our retrospectives at a time of day that our team feel most engaged and for a length of time that gels with their maximum attention span.

Optimise time and length for maximum engagement

One way to understand what this means for your team is to simply poll them. Send a quick survey or Slack/Teams message to your team asking them:

  • what time of day they are most collaborative
  • how long they typically stay engaged during a retrospective

Once we understand this, we should change our retrospective meetings to take this onboard immediately. This means:

  • scheduling the retrospective for the time of day where most of the team have indicated they are most collaborative
  • having the discipline to not go over the allotted time

Product Tip

Easy Agile TeamRhythm Timer

The Retrospective timer helps to manage and track your time while running a retrospective ceremony. You can time box certain parts of the retrospective to make sure you're keeping your retrospective on time and on track.

The timer functionality in Easy Agile TeamRhythm ensures that your Retrospectives never run over time

Learn more about the Timer functionality here

Easy Agile TeamRhythm Focus

The Focus features enables you to view the retrospective board ordered by created date, number of reactions, or creator.

The feature also allows you to filter the retrospective items by categories.

The Focus feature in Easy Agile TeamRhythm

This, along with the timer, ensures you are respecting the teams time and focusing on the most pressing retrospective issues first.

Learn more about the Focus feature here

Tip 2: Experiment with the Retrospective Format

Collaboration tends to decline when ceremonies become too formulaic and predictable. One way to keep engagement high is to experiment with different Retrospective templates.

Best Practive Tip #2: Experiment with the Format

Product Tip

Easy Agile TeamRhythm Bling

Easy Agile TeamRhythm comes with a number of out of the box templates for your team to start using. You can also customise any of the columns in Retrospectives to start using your own Retrospective templates.

Out of the box templates in Easy Agile TeamRhythm

Learn more about TeamRhythm's templates here

Icebreakers are also a great way to inject fun and versatility into your Retrospectives. Icebreakers help your team build empathy for one another and start connecting on a human level.

They are also a great way for facilitators to understand the headspace the team are in before starting a Retrospective so they can assess what level of engagement or energy is needed to bring into the session.

Tip 3: Ensure all voices have the chance to be heard

Ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be heard is an important part of an effective Retrospective. This can be easier said than done, so we wanted to share a few ways you can foster inclusivity in your retrospectives:

Best Practice Tip #3: Ensure all voices have the chance to be heard

Round Robin the Facilitator

The Retrospective is facilitated by a new member of the team each week. The value of doing this, is that different people bring different ice breakers and different relationships within the team which makes different people feel more comfortable sharing with group.

This tactic is also beneficial because it shares the facilitation load amongst the group which means that everyone gets the opportunity to engage at some point, as well as the opportunity to build the facilitation muscle amongst your team.

Pass it on

Pass it on is a technique where the person who has shared their perspective nominates the next person to contribute. This technique is effective because it takes some of the anxiety out of speaking up within a group, by removing the authority from the facilitator and giving it back to the team.

Tip 4: Take Action

In order to be effective, Retrospectives need action items. In other words, how can we turn what we've learnt this sprint/iteration into tangible ways to improve?

It is important for those action items to be captured, assigned an owner and for the team to be clear on when/if they will be actioned or not.

Best Practice Tip #4: Take action

All action items should be followed up on, ideally at the beginning of the next retrospective. Not following up or actioning on retrospective action items is a sure way to disempower the team from ideating ways to continually improve.

Product Tip

Easy Agile TeamRhythm Action Plans

Convert actions in Easy Agile TeamRhythm into Jira tickets and assign, schedule and track their completion alongside the team's work in Jira.

Converting retro action items in Easy Agile TeamRhythm to Jira tickets

Learn more about creating Action Plans in TeamRhythm here