Getting Feedback through a Retrospective

When was the last time you took time as a team/group to get feedback and discuss ideas around improvement?

Through the Scrum framework, I have come to value the retrospective.  A retrospective is defined by the Scrum Guide as “an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during next sprint.” The purpose is defined by the Scrum Guide as,

  • Inspect how the last Sprint went with regards to people, relationships, process, and tools;
  • Identify and order the major items that went well and potential improvements; and,
  • Create a plan for implementing improvements to the way the Scrum Team does its work.

I recommend doing this type of meeting in any organization.  It gives time to reflect and bring ideas to the table on how to improve.  In the above definition, this meeting is done at the end of each sprint cycle (duration of time will vary). Try picking a time frame that aligns with your respective work cycle. You may ask questions as a team around:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What specific things should we start doing next cycle to improve?

The amount of value that may come from these meetings can be great. You may get an idea for an improvement area that saves the company from large amounts of waste in terms of time and money.  In a 3 week cycle, for example, as a marketing team, you may discover that you should start having someone from sales review ad designs on day 5.  On day 5, you have found as a team that the initial design for the ad is done (ideally there is data available to back this up from your visual board, etc.). Unfortunately, the current process waits until day 15 and then changes take longer that may potentially cause the item to be late or force overtime etc.

You may calculate the monetary value in a number of ways. Maybe overtime was worked to meet the changes. The rate per person for overtime is $50 per hour.  Two co-workers worked 10 hours of overtime costing the company $1000. These types of issues may end up costing a company thousands to millions of dollars of over time.

What are your experiences with retrospectives? If you try one for the first time, let me know how it goes.

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