Getting started with Agile Retrospectives

The first thing anybody new to Agile Retrospectives should do is get a copy of “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great”, by Esther Derby & Diana Larsen.

It gives lots of great ideas on how to conduct your retrospectives in different ways but at the same time accomplishing the goal of finding ways of being better.

Based on the book, here is an example of how a Sprint 1 retrospective was conducted amongst a team that was fairly new to Agile.

Set the Stage:

Here the team came up with a working agreement.  Instead of breaking up into small groups the team performed this activity as one big group.  A total of 8 items were added to the first crack at the working agreement.  E.g. “Participation is voluntary”

Gather Data:

The “Timeline” activity was used.  Using different colour Post-it notes on a large white board seemed to have a good visual effect.  Although it was difficult for distributed team members to take part.  Of particular interest was the different emotions to certain things.  E.g. Some people had good and bad feelings towards mob programming.

Gather Insights:

Next, the information on the Post-it notes were grouped into categories (e.g. communication).  The categories were plugged into a spreadsheet column with team members across the top.  The dot voting approach was used where each team member had a total of 10 votes.  It was decided that requirements should be discussed.

Decide What to Do:

The team decided that additional data was required for the user stories.  A SMART goal was identified.  Furthermore, the team decided that they should not proceed with additional goals for the next sprint.

Close the Retrospective:

The “Appreciation” activity was used.  The “Delta” would have been an appropriate choice as well.  However, since this was the 1st retrospective I think appreciations were a better choice.