Friday, 24 October 2014

I Love Agile Retrospectives!

I absolutely love nothing more than running Agile retrospectives. It is my thing. It's the meeting that I look forward to most with every software team that I work with.

I run retrospectives for my team at McKenna Consultants, for teams that we work with on software development projects and for teams that we are coaching. I've run retrospectives for multiple teams. I also coach my clients to run them. I have even encouraged my girlfriend to run them for her team, in an industry totally different to technology! That is how much I love Agile retrospectives (geeky I know).

I get a real buzz from watching the conversation and discussion develop and new ideas growing from these. Here are 10 tips on how I like to run my retrospectives:


  1. Firstly, you have to do them (or at least have a mechanism for change embedded in your team) in order to be Agile.
  2. I prefer doing them on a Friday afternoon. It's the end of a usually busy week, Friday afternoon is the time to get together as a team, have some fun and get some ideas out.
  3. They need to be fun. Yes, FUN. Believe it or not it is allowed! I like to make them fun by running themes throughout. Below are some pictures of some of the themed retrospectives that I have been apart of. I have done themes of the World Cup, Wimbledon and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Star Wars! The key is finding a theme that is a) relevant; and b) is a shared interest amongst your team. 
    Wimbledon Retrospective Complete With Strawberry and Cream Cakes!

    World Cup 2014 Retrospective!
  4. Get out of the office. Put your tools down and go to a local cafe, park (if weather permits) or down the pub. If you get outside your usual workplace then the ideas will really start to flow! Warning: If you choose to go to the pub for your retrospective, it is generally a good idea not to have an alcoholic drink!
  5. Play music. Get the team to relax, use the music to fill any quiet moments when the team are thinking.
  6. Make it visual. It's no good sat around staring at your notebooks. Prepare handouts. Use a whiteboard. Drag your kanban in. Get creative.
  7. Read Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. I love the structure to retrospectives that they suggest. It provides a great platform for me to go on and tailor my retrospectives to the team.
  8. Get some inspiration from other books like Innovation Games by Luke Hohmann. You'll be amazed at how many ideas that you can get and adapt to provide value to your team.
  9. Bring Food. People like food, simple. I'm not talking about a 3 course meal, some buns, tin of chocolates or bag of sweets is enough.
  10. Make sure that you leave the meeting with some actions that are followed up on. Fun is important, but you need to make sure that you and the team create value from it.
To help you come up with some retrospective themes, I will post some ideas from time to time on here, let me know how you get on!

Here's to continual improvement and happy "retrospecting"!

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