Retrospecting Your Iterations

A retrospective meeting is held at the end of each iteration for the team to inspect and adapt their iteration, teamwork, and methods.

A good retrospective relies on an environment in which team members are able to speak truthfully without ongoing recriminations. The scrum master facilitates the meeting to ensure that this all members participate openly. If trust is not high, the retrospective may focus on trust as a theme and resolve to embrace new practices that increase trust.

Scrum masters can consider a few options as guidelines for facilitating the meeting. They go beyond asking what worked well and what didn't work well in helping teams gather insights about their practices and make new team agreements:

ORID

Engage the team in a series of questions that help slow down decisions and gather insights before moving to recommendations:

  • O: Ask objective questions first. "What was happening? What did you notice?" Have team members work in small groups to gather these items.
  • R: Ask reflective questions next. "What reaction did you have to that? What was challenging or helpful?"
  • I: Ask interpretive questions. "What does that say about how we work? What might be some recommendations for our work?"
  • D: Ask decisional questions. "Given what we have recorded here, what new agreements or practices might we invite into our next iterations?"

Helped, hindered, hypothesis

Ask each of these questions individually and have the team identify items to be scribed on a flipchart (one flipchart per question):

  • What helped us in this iteration?
  • What hindered us in this iteration?
  • What hypotheses (recommendations) could we make about how we work in our next iteration?

Wind versus anchors

To use a sailing metaphor, what put wind in your sails during this iteration versus what weighed you down?  Use a flipchart for each question.  Be sure to record all the positive wind responses before moving to the anchor responses. These should lead to open discussion about recommendations going forward.

Appreciations

An iteration retrospective is a great time to invite individual team members to appreciate other individual team members: "Sue, I appreciate you for helping me with testing on the final story." Whatever retrospection technique you choose, remember that the goal is to have the team make decisions. At the end of a retrospective, the scrum master guides the team in selecting one to three new practices to adopt for the next iteration based on their insights. In this way, the team is continually creating new, ever-improving working agreements; it commits to continually improving its Agile adoption, its trust, its safety, and its value delivery.

Once the retrospection is over, the scrum master collects action items and ensures each has an owner from the team. The scrum master then takes on the ownership of ensuring each action item is completed.

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