Before we can talk about retrospective meetings, the following definitions must be known:
- Agile methodologies are those that allow the way of working to be adapted to the conditions of the project, achieving flexibility and immediacy in the response to adapt the project and its development to the specific circumstances of the environment.
- Sprint is the name given to each of the iterations into which a project is divided with the objective of achieving an increase in the product, which provides value to the client.
Retrospectives are the meetings that take place at the end of each sprint, in order to analyse what has been done so far and to improve the next one.
Its practice is associated with the agile Scrum methodology, the name first appearing in 2001, in Norman L. Kerth's book Project Retrospectives. However, the concept had already been discussed in books such as Surviving Object-Oriented Projects by Alistair Cockburn, which talked about increments and incremental reset meetings.
All members of the team, including internal and client managers, should participate. One of them will be the facilitator, whose main role is to encourage all participants to participate and to lead the meeting through its various phases:
- Setting the scene
- Collect data
- Reflect and enquire
- Deciding what to do
- Closing the retrospective
What is its objective?
They are intended to provide an analysis of how work is progressing, allowing teams to pause to identify good practices and identify areas for improvement. For example, by running them frequently and while continuing to work on a project, retrospectives provide an opportunity to fix problems while there is still time.
In short, the retrospectives provide answers to three questions:
- What has been done well?
- And badly?
- What will be changed for the better?
In other words, the aim is that each team member can express his or her point of view, reaching a common consensus and setting improvement actions to be implemented in the next sprint.
After this, we will describe some of the most commonly applied techniques in the central phases of the meeting, e.g. the most classical ones assess, above all, the performance of the team:
The sailing ship
The sailboat is a metaphor for the team and is accompanied by several visual components that help to make a diagnosis of the project:
- The sails represent the strengths of the team.
- Anchors represent internal weaknesses.
- The island in the distance represents the ideal state, where the team delivers everything on time, the client is delighted with the work, etc.
- Rocks represent external threats to the team that can complicate the path to the objectives.
The starfish divides an area or board into five parts:
- Start doing: Ideas that the team wants to start implementing in the next Sprint.
- Stop doing: Activities that the team wants to eradicate during the next Sprint.
- Do more: Ideas that the team wants to focus on and do more of in the next Sprint.
- Doing less: Activities that do not add value to the team, product or customer and therefore need to be done less.
- Keep doing: Activities that are useful to the team and you want to maintain them.
In recent years, Management 3.0 techniques have begun to be applied, which are more focused on managing people and getting to know team members in depth. Some examples are:
This technique aims to reduce the personal distance between team members. To achieve this, a mind map is constructed with personal information about each member, such as their family, education, work, hobbies, values, friends, goals, among others.
A dynamic that consists of sharing what motivates us and what does not motivate us, ranking the following motivators:
- Curiosity: I have a wide range of things to research, learn and reflect on.
- Acceptance: People around me accept and respect what I do and who I am.
- Power: I have enough space for my decisions to impact the environment around me.
- Relationships: Having good social relationships with the people I work with.
- Aim: My purpose in life is reflected in the work I do.
- Honour: I can say that my personal values are reflected in how I work.
- Competences: Challenges in my work push my competences to the limit, but within my abilities.
- Freedom: I am independent of others in my work and responsibilities.
- Order:There are sufficient rules and policies for a stable environment.
- Status: My position is recognised by the people I work with.
The traditional way of running these meetings was face-to-face, with the support of post-it notes. However, with the introduction of teleworking, new online tools have appeared:
Both have in common the possibility of creating personalised boards, which is very similar to the face-to-face dynamic of using a post-it board. In addition, it is possible to vote or leave comments on the cards anonymously.
Whether you follow a Devops methodology or not, whether you are in software development or not, now is the time to put all this into practice and discover its advantages.