Retrospectives: How (and Why) to Not Hate Them

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Information about Retrospectives: How (and Why) to Not Hate Them

Published on March 16, 2014

Author: HalaSalehCSMCSPPMP



“If you could adopt only one practice from agile methodologies, it should be retrospectives.”, said Many Super Smart Experts. Retrospectives can inspire love, hate, and sometimes both, depending on who (and when) you ask. In this session we will explore the reasons why retrospectives get such a bad rap, how to think differently about participating in retrospectives, and explore some different ways retrospectives can be run.

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RETROSPECTIVES: How (and Why) to Not Hate Them Hala Saleh Agile Coach, Product Manager, Entrepreneur @HalaSaleh1

Who Am I? •  Hala Saleh •  CSM , CSP (as of last Tuesday!), PMP •  History/Evolution: Developer -> QA Engineer -> Project Manager -> Agile Coach/ Consultant •  Today: Co-Founder:, Director of Product at, involved in Utah startup scene •  Passionate about agile because of my belief in the power of agile values to transform the way we live and work! ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

What is a Retrospective? ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

Retrospectives: Then and Now q Historically: Post-Mortems -  Share your experience with post-mortems! Describe them. What happens afterwards? q Used to be done at the end of a long-term project. Issues: -  Team frequently disperses afterwards -  No opportunity for real improvement q  Nowadays: Usually done at the end of a “sprint” or iteration, especially in agile organizations q  Some teams are making retrospectives an ongoing activity ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

©  2014  Hala  Saleh   If  you  could  implement  only  ONE  thing   from  agile  methodologies,  it  should  be   #retrospec;ves.  

•  Who has participated in a retrospective or post- mortem? •  Who participates in retrospectives on a regular basis? Split into groups of 4 – 5 people: –  should have at least 1 person who has participated in retrospectives in each group Let’s Explore ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

In your groups, discuss the following questions (5 minutes): 1.  What do you like about retrospectives, or what are some potential advantages? 2.  What do you NOT like about retrospectives, or what are some potential disadvantages? Keeping it Real ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

What do you like about retrospectives, or what are some potential advantages? •  Safe place to implement changes •  Retrospective activities (like drawing – ways to think outside of the normal paradigm) •  Talking about things that might need to change in process •  Seeing a change implemented Retrospectives: The Good ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

•  When done frequently, can expose problems before they become deep-seated issues •  Team interaction •  Openness •  “We can do it” attitude Retrospectives: The Good Crowd-Sourced (Twitter, F2F): ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

What do you NOT like about retrospectives, or what are some potential disadvantages? •  Sometimes hard to get participation •  People come with complaints but no ideas on how to change •  Another meeting •  Fels like baggage is being brought up every time Retrospectives: The Bad (& the Ugly) ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

Retrospectives: The Bad (& the Ugly) Crowd-Sourced (Twitter, F2F): •  Feels like a critical environment –  Fix: Frequency to feel more comfortable •  The information gathered is almost always forgotten/ignored –  Fix: Treat action items as regular tasks that go in your backlog –  Focus on 1 – 2 items that the team agrees on •  Blame/fingerpointing –  Fix: Setting retrospective rules ahead of time ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

Retrospectives: The 5 Whys •  Why retrospect? –  Retrospection = Analysis •  Why analyze? –  Analysis = Understanding •  Why understand? –  Understanding = Improvement •  Why improve? –  Improvement = Growth •  Why grow? –  Growth = So many things! (Let’s check the next slide) ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

Retrospectives: Growth = ? •  Growth = –  Achievement –  Novelty –  Excitement –  Motivation –  FUN. •  And at the end of the day, if you aren’t having fun, then you aren’t going to stick around. ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

Retrospectives and YOU If retrospectives can help create an environment where you are motivated, learning, improving, and having fun: •  What do you think now about your role in retrospectives? •  How do you feel about whether retrospectives are successful and achieve their goals? ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

•  Retrospectives can come in different shapes and sizes •  Encourage your team/ facilitator to change it up •  Stagnation = the kiss of death Retrospectives: Some flavors ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

•  What went well? •  What didn’t go well? •  What can we change/ Action items (a.k.a HCWMWDGWGWNT*)? Retrospectives: Standard Edition *  How  Can  We  Make  What  Didn’t  Go  Well  Go  Well  Next  Time   ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

•  Data Gathering: –  List the main events/highlights of the last iteration •  Data Analysis: –  Which of the events were highs? Why? –  Which of the events were lows? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? (i.e. 5 Whys to get to Root Cause). Let’s try! •  Root Cause -> Action Items: –  Now that we know root cause: What can be done to avoid repeating the lows? Retrospectives: Standard Edition+ ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

©  2014  Hala  Saleh   Starfish Retrospectives: An Example

•  Allow people to go mark certain dates on the timeline to show when something happened that had an impact on them •  Discuss the different events and have people explain what the impact was on them personally and on the team •  Ask the team to come up with solutions to the most commonly mentioned events •  Team picks 1 – 2 action items to include in next iteration Retrospective Timeline ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

Your Favorite Retrospective? ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

•  Set Retrospective Rules –  Frequency (Experiment with this!) –  Who Facilitates –  End Result •  Gather Data •  Acknowledge the Positive •  Focus on 1 – 2 Challenges/Issues to Discuss –  Team should vote/agree on what they are most motivated to work on •  Action Plan Your Action Items –  Include them in your requirements, tasks, backlog the same as any other task –  Include in your next iteration’s planning –  Include in your next iteration’s review Retrospectives: Framework for Success ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

Resources & Tools •  Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (Esther Derby & Diana Larsen) •  Esther Derby’s blog: category/reading/_retrospectives •  Retrospective cookies: ( • ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

©  2014  Hala  Saleh   •  TODAY: Make a difference in your team/org’s retrospectives! •  Send the following: (Note: Find me at or @HalaSaleh1, ping me TODAY and I will send this to you! I will also include you in a drawing for 1 of 2 prizes: Agile Retrospectives book and a box of Retrospective fortune cookies!) Dear Project Manager/Scrum Master/Team/Person who facilitates retrospectives (or should), Today, I became a believer in the power of retrospectives. There is so much growth and learning we can achieve together as a team! I am happy to share some of what I’ve learned and some ideas I got from the session I attended. One example is generating concrete action items that get included in our planning and development cycles, and are treated the same as any other development task! I look forward to contributing to making our retrospectives a success. Retrospectives: Your Task

•  Ben Linders (@BenLinders) •  Matt McMurry (@mcmurrym) •  Samantha Laing (@samlaing) •  Karen Greaves (@karen_greaves) •  John Miller (@agileschools) •  Syednazirrazik (@joesat) Thanks to the following RetroRockstars (for answering my Twitter request) ©  2014  Hala  Saleh  

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