5 Tips to Keep Getting Value from Agile Retrospectives

Ben Linders QCon London 2015People often ask me what to do to prevent that teams get bored when doing agile retrospectives for a longer period. The short answer is: Make sure that you are getting value from doing your retrospectives. Ok, but how can you do that? Here are 5 practical tips that will assure that you keep getting value from your agile retrospectives.

Things that you can do to spice up your retrospectives and keep getting value out of them:

  1. Have somebody else facilitate the retrospective. E.g. a team member, Scrum master from another team, one of your agile coaches, etc. A fresh facilitators can lead to other kinds of discussions, insights and views, and helps you to discover new topics and different improvement.
  2. Change the setting for the retrospective. Go outside, hop over to a nearby meeting center or training facility, visit a museum, have dinner together, etc. Basically try anything that moves team members out of the daily routine and helps them to take a fresh look at how they are doing.
  3. Invite other people to the retrospective. Do a retrospective together with your stakeholders, customers, people from operations, or any other group of people that your team collaborates with. When the audience changes, the scope and perspective changes along; the retrospective becomes a project level retrospective, end-to-end retro, DevOps retro, Business – IT retro, etc.
  4. Do a retrospectives on how you have been improving as a team. This includes reflecting on the way that you are doing retrospectives, and also on how the follow up on the improvement actions is done. Such a retrospectives will help you to find effective ways for doing continuous sustainable improvement.
  5. Celebrate successes. For a team that’s been together for some time there must be things that are going great, so take time to explore them and learn more about the things that go well and discover your team strengths.

These 5 tips will help you to keep getting value from agile retrospectives. But there’s more:

Bonus tip: People get bored when doing retrospectives the same way over and over. To keep your retrospectives valuable, frequently change the retrospective exercise that you use (here’s a toolbox with retrospective exercises).

Summing up: Don’t wait until people are getting bored in retrospectives. Change your retrospective facilitator, setting, and exercises frequently, invite people, reflect on how you are doing your retrospectives and celebrate successes so that your teams stay fresh and keep coming up with useful improvement actions. Keep your agile retrospectives valuable!

Workshops on Valuable Agile Retrospectives

Do you want to do valuable agile retrospectives? You can attend one of my workshops on Valuable Agile Retrospectivesdownload a book with retrospective exercises or use the Retrospectives Exercises Toolbox to design effective retrospectives. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss the possibilities.

Upcoming workshops:

Note: This blog post is based on my answer to Making Retrospectives Effective in a Long-Running Project. If you like it, please upvote my answer on StackExchange 🙂

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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.

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