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5 steps for a great retrospective

A continuous improvement mindset is one of the core principles of any Agile environment. The overall idea behind it is to create systems in the organization that enables ongoing effort to improve its product, processes, and culture.

Retrospectives are one of the best ways of bringing this mindset to life. This ceremony usually is focused only on Scrum Teams, but it can be used at all levels of the organization.

If you are trying to drive a retrospective, I have put together the 5 steps for making a killer retrospective. It is based on the book Agile Retrospective: Making Good Teams Great and the website

1. Set the stage

As a moderator of the retrospective, try to warm things up, letting people be more comfortable in opening up their opinion.

Suggested Practices: Happiness Factor, Weather Report, or a warm-up question.

2. Gather Data

Ask each person to give their opinion in post-its on how was their experience in the previous period (last week, sprint, project, meeting…).

Suggested Practices: Sail Boat, Mad — Sad — Glad, Good — Bad — Ugly, Start — Stop — Continue…

3. Generate Insights

Discuss each post-it, especially the ones that are negative and shared by more than one team member.

Suggested Practices: Positive Attitude and give space for everyone to contribute.

4. Decide what to do

Decide what to do with each post-it, especially the negative ones, defining action points and the person responsible to work on it.

Suggested Practices: Continuous Improvement mindset

5. Wrap up

Review the new action points and end the retrospective with a nice and motivating message. Remember to always document action points and to revisit them.

Suggested Practices: Online tools, such as wikis.

Below is a nicer version of the text using an infographic:


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