A new year has begun and of course in no time, the first Retrospective of it will come around. With the holidays just out the door, and the team still trying to settle in, makes you wonder how do you start the first Retrospective meeting, or what do you even focus on. Well, start right there. Before starting anything, make your usual entrance and welcome. Stop for a quick reminder of why we have these meetings and discuss how the holidays went for everyone. Make sure the team is relaxed with a joke here and there, and slowly start bringing focus to work stuff.
To set the stage use the Proud and Sorry technique.
As you can tell by the name of it, it is pretty simple. Have a white board split in two, and on one side write Proud and on the other Sorry. Have the team take time to think over the past few weeks and write down moments or memories of having felt Proud or Sorry about something. While they put up their notes, take some time to think about it yourself, and write down a few things.
Have everyone read each of the items, and take the time to discuss any of those that they feel like, or you think are important to be focused on. While reading and discussing make sure you take notes of possible actions to be voted later on.
After everyone is finished, make sure you go up too and start with the Sorry for .. moments, to make sure that after you’re finished, the team is still left in a good mood by the Proud ones.
Well, with a few weeks without a retrospective meeting, the Retro mail box is probably full of notes and thoughts written down. Make sure you use it and have plenty of time for each of the notes.
It is important and really helpful in reminding the team of things that happened weeks ago. While reading those notes, other things may come to mind too.
Again, keep notes of possible actions to be voted later at the voting part of the meeting.
What to do?
After every note is finished and the discussions are over, ask the team what else is there that they wish to talk over. If there is nothing else, ask if it is alright by them to continue to voting.
Read out loud every note you have written down so far, and talk it over with the team of how important it is to be placed inside this sprint. As usual, everybody votes on items and those with most votes are chosen as the actions for this sprint.
Closing the meeting
Clearly you don’t always need a number of activities or an interesting walkthrough of the meetings. Sometimes it is nice to keep it simple, relaxed and to the point. Let the discussions and the team make the path of the meeting and you just may be surprised of how well it turns out.
Once again, we came up with a few very good actions and added some more to the general actions list. Feedback from the team was also really good, and it was very nice being back there on that meeting. Obviously, we all needed it.