Retrospectives in Remote Teams

Reading Time: 3 minutes

RemoteRetrospectiveWhen you are working with an agile team where people are not co-located you still want to do valuable agile retrospectives. As gathering everybody in one location for the retrospective is not feasible, you need to take a different approach.

Dispersed Team Questions Retrospective

The dispersed team questions retrospective exercise is a variant of the questions-based retrospective for teams consisting of members working from different locations, for example team members working from home or working in different offices, countries or even continents.

The team members do not need to come together physically, but they need to find a time slot when they can all join the retrospective. They can do the retrospective remotely using collaboration tools, to reflect on their way of working and find ways to improve the way that they work together.

Suitable collaboration tools that teams can use are:

The real-time editor or collaboration tool is used to share questions with the team members and collect their answers and define the improvement actions.

How to do a remote retrospective

Let explore how you can do a remote retrospective using a Google Doc that can be co-edited. About a week before the retrospective meeting is scheduled the facilitator selects the questions to be used in the retrospective. These questions are entered into the Google Doc and the document link is shared with all team members before the retrospective.

The Google Doc is used to gather data. The team member can either add their answers to questions before or during the meeting.

The facilitator will setup a group call, e.g. via Skype or Hangout. If needed by the team then the facilitator will allow time at the start of the meeting to team members time to brainstorm and enter their answers in the document.

When all the answers are added to the document the team can discuss them, build an understanding of the ideas and views of the different team members, and decide which actions are needed. These actions are entered in the same document. The document serves as a report from the retrospective and as an action list, everything is in there where everybody can see it.

Questions for a remote retrospective

Since this retrospective exercise is used by teams which are time and place dispersed there will usually be questions related to working as a remote team, communication using collaboration tools, building relationships while working long distance, etc.

Some sample questions are:

  • What do you like about our team and the way that we work together?
  • What can we do to improve collaboration, communication and co-working in the team?
  • How do you feel about the tools that we are using?
  • Do the tools support collaboration sufficiently?
  • What have you learned working in this dispersed team?
  • If there is one thing that you could change, what would it be?

These questions help dispersed teams to discuss their way of working and find better ways to collaborate and deliver value to their customers.

Want to learn how to do (remote) retrospectives?

Retrospectives are a great way for teams to improve their way of working, to become agile in an agile way. Getting actions out of a retrospective that are doable, and getting them done helps teams to learn and improve continuously.

Do you want to spice up your agile retrospective? Attend my workshops on Valuable Agile Retrospectives to learn how to adopt agile retrospectives and become agile in an agile way. My books with retrospective exercises are available in eBook and paperback  Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss the possibilities.

(This post has been updated on September 1, 2015, added a link to Retrium)

(Visited 7,516 times, 2 visits today)

About Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.
Tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Retrospectives in Remote Teams

  1. Thanks for this article. We had fairly good results in our team using Trello for remote activities. I wrote some details about i here http://philippe.bourgau.net/trellospectives-remote-retrospectives-with-trello/

    • Ben Linders says:

      Thanks Philippe for sharing your blog post with experiences with Trello for remote retrospectives!

      Did you create a separate board for your retrospectives, or did you add columns to the board that you use on daily base to plan and track work in the team?

  2. Kacper says:

    Hey Ben! I really believe you should check out a tool we’re using to do retrospectives with our clients – RetroTool (https://retrotool.io). It’s by no means perfect (we’re developing in our free time) but we share it for free and we find it really fun to use. A good facilitator can really customise the flow of the retrospective while still keeping it simple. We missed this in the other tools. I’d love to hear your feedback 🙂

Leave a Reply

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

  • Ben Linders – Independent Consultant Agile, Lean, Quality, and Continuous Improvement

    Ben Linders
    Ik help organisaties om effectiever software te ontwikkelen. Neem contact op voor mijn diensten.

    I help organizations to effectively develop software. Contact me to hear about my services.