How does your team run retrospectives? Edited

A few weeks ago I was at AUG meeting in Israel.

To my surprise, not many people knew what a retrospective is... 

Some of them had meetings which were more or less backlog grooming or spring planning, some teams were discussing finished issues and how to do them better.

But, by definition, agile retrospective is a meeting that should happen at the end of an iteration, to help teams improve from sprint to sprint.

It shouldn't be only about issues themselves, but also about other things that disturbed the team, and the things that were good.

I'm wondering now after having this encounter, how does your team run retrospectives?

I'm sure there is a lot of things that we can learn from each other :)

---

As developers at Spartez, we are working on a solution to help teams in conducting retrospectives called Agile Retros. 

You may know Spartez from Atlassian Summits or if you ever used apps like TFS4JIRA, Agile Poker or Agile Cards.

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In general the practice of retros are a great way to reflect, learn and improve the way we work. I've seen our teams do retrospectives several different ways:

Post-sprint: after each two-week sprint cycle dev, design and program management teams would meet to discuss three topics: Celebrate, Reinforce, Improve. Teams would spend the first few minutes jotting down comments across those three categories on sticky notes and put them up on a whiteboard. A facilitator (we all rotated) would then organize the sticky notes and start to identify themes and action items. 

After large projects: Same deal as above. Cross functional teams on a project would meet to go over the three topic areas: what worked, what didn't work, what to improve. Again, action items would be identified and a summary of the retrospective would be shared across the team for optimizing future projects/work.

Mid-project retro: Lastly, one new thing we've done with really large projects is to break it up mid-way through the project and do a mid-project retro so that we can pause in the middle of the project to check in and identify any areas that need course correction.

In terms of format - we've used sticky notes on white boards, Trello boards, Confluence pages - basically what ever works for the team.

Hope that helps!

Yes! Thank you very much for your answer! :)

How many people taking part in your retros? 
Is the team collocated or distributed?

Number of people depends, but I'd say that smaller groups help keep the conversations more focused.

We've done it with both collocated and distributed teams. If teams are remote - that's where Trello boards come in handy - teams can fill out cards in real-time.

OK, thanks @Aumarie Benipayo!

Trello boards may be very helpful, that's right

We are trying to support retrospectives (mostly for distributed teams) directly in Jira, with Agile Retros app - https://marketplace.atlassian.com/plugins/com.spartez.agile-retros/cloud/overview . So if you are looking for something fresh, I'd be very happy if you could try it and give me feedback :)

@Jacek Wizmur-Szymczak Are you able to provide a sandbox for my short personal testing? I would love to try.

Sure @Joanna Plaskonka! Here goes the link - https://spartez-demo.atlassian.net . 

Feel free to contact me in case of any questions - jacek.wizmur@spartez.com

Aumarie:
Definitly we use the post-sprint technique... (after 2 weeks).
We focus in what was wrong, what was good, what need to be  change...
and some statistics from the sprint, who finish on time PBI, bugs, test cases and so on.

Someone put this together and I have found it very helpful to make sure everyone is engaged. https://trello.com/b/8LCwErJF/retrospectives

Thanks, @Robin Surland! Can you give me access? I can't open it now. 

Sorry about that! It is public now.

Hello,

Does your question relate to teams' retrospective in general?

Hello :)

I'd love to know how teams conduct retrospectives - what is the process, what is the desired outcome, how often are they conducted. 

Is the team involved? 

Do people feel that this is important?

Or is it something that they have to do because management says so?

Usually retrospective closes sprint or important moment in a project cycle. The general aim is to improve processes, relationships, effects of work etc. I've seen different approaches:

- talking openly and making notes on a whiteboard,

- creating post-it notes, conducting discussion related to post-it notes and writing conclusions on a whiteboard,

- using web tool e.g Trello or similar to conduct discussion and make notes.

The desired outcome is a common agreement on actions/experiments team is going to do in the next sprint(s). I believe that it is important to have easy access to retrospective notes as the team is responsible for checking back if they did what they promised to themselves.

The team is involved in retrospective, if they are involved in the scrum process itself. They feel that it is important when they see value in it - there is a huge role of Scrum Master here. Also, I believe that in the ideal situation they should feel supported in the scrum process by the whole organisation. If management says "Do retrospective", they will do it. But not necessarily it will be beneficial to anybody.

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