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How can retrospectives help teams?

Communication is key in the wrap-up of an Agile environment, whether a team uses Scrum, Kanban, or another project management style.
© Torrens University

What happens after a project is complete is crucial to improving an Agile team. Within most project management structures, a team retrospective will typically take place at the end of a project.

A retrospective is an opportunity for a team to:

  • Reflect on the previous period of time
  • Plan for the future

We should not view retrospectives as negative. It is important to highlight the things that went well (such as hitting deadlines quickly, fixing issues fast) and the things that did not go well. A crucial part of this retrospective is the team input. A manager or Scrum leader may not fully know all staff placements (and issues) at all times.

There are different ways of approaching retrospectives

Image of women leading a team and taking post-it notes from a wall Image of a team sitting together and discussing with post-its in the background
There is no entirely agreed-upon, Kanban specific retrospective style. However, a team can mirror the Kanban approach by listing issues on a board, in the form of cards, and then walk through each of them separately. This allows for the retrospective to mirror the day-to-day working, like scrum, while also allowing an opportunity for team feedback.
At the end of each sprint, Scrum teams will hold a sprint retrospective. This involves the team sitting down and talking through what happened during the sprint and any important events (positive or negative). The Sprint Retrospective also improves the team; if the team doesn’t take on board what they have learnt, it’s a wasted opportunity.

What do we Cover in a Retrospective?

Picture of two hands, one with thumbs up and the other down Picture of hand ticking a paper Picture of an hourglass
The good and the bad
What went well, and what went poorly during the project sprint. It’s important to address both sides to make sure there is a balanced view of the project.
Assignment of tasks
This may include tasks assigned to the right/wrong team members and how quickly team members completed their tasks.
Time management
Were team members given enough time for tasks assigned to them and were tasks within the project (or sprint) completed on time?

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

As always, communication is key in the wrap-up of an Agile environment. Whether a team uses Scrum, Kanban, or another project management style entirely, communication at every stage is a crucial part. When communication happens, teams can learn more and learn faster. This results in customers that are more satisfied and teams that work better together.

Quote from Fred Brooks. "How does a project get to be a year late? One day at a time"

© Torrens University
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