July 15, 2024
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Many don’t hold retrospectives or lessons learned meetings after a project. Only the most disciplined project managers hold them consistently and improve future projects. A project retrospective meeting is a scheduled event to review the project, its success and failure factors, lessons learned, and improvements.

  • For example, if you created an action item to set up a regular check-in meeting, you might follow up after the first few meetings to see how they’re going.
  • Just like with the One Word Check In, simply ask your team a question and ask them to respond in a single word or short phrase.
  • Get detailed guidance on making your retrospectives better with these tips for improving your sprint retrospective and preventing boredom.
  • Projects, like people, only have post-mortems when something has gone horribly wrong.
  • If you are a Scrum master or in middle management, it’s possible that you spend up to 50% of your time attending meetings.
  • Ask each team member to share their thoughts about the problems they encountered during this iteration and how they think they could have been avoided in future iterations.

That means holding people accountable for what they say they want to improve and making sure they follow through on their commitments. If you want people to take project retrospective ownership of their work, they need to feel personally responsible for it. Start by giving everyone 1-2 minutes to share their reflections on the project.

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If you’re holding a sprint retrospective, the sprint manager also attends. Sharing the results from the retrospective report is crucial in your next kickoff meeting. Email the summary report from the project retrospective to all meeting attendees prior to your next kickoff.

Feel free to try what you want, and only use what works well for your team and situation. These questions focus on the team’s processes and practices, not the work product itself. Numerous Agile retrospective formats and discussion prompts are available for guiding this conversation if you want to vary the meeting slightly. But these four questions and proposed action steps are the essence of the retrospective. Retrospective meetings occur at the end of a project to help teams pause and think about improving future performance.

Discuss what went well

We’ll walk through post-project retrospectives in this first article. I have also seen evidence of the effectiveness of structured reflection for both personal and professional growth. In a second article, I will present some lessons learned and researched-backed techniques that those who wish to engage in reflection can attempt to include in their routine. In a project retrospective, project team members identify strengths and inefficiencies and share ideas to promote better performance. The retrospective ends with concrete plans to put a few steps into action. These processes help the members of your team learn to communicate more effectively with one another.

For example, you might have used Force Field Analysis to find the strongest supporting and inhibiting factors for a change item. Use Start Stop Continue to propose actions the team can take to increase the strength of the supporting factor and decrease the strength of the inhibiting factor. Force Field Analysis is a great way of identifying the factors that 1) support the topic (or drive the change forward), and 2) oppose the topic (or prohibit the change from happening). The team can then move on to identify what actions it can take to reinforce the driving factors and to lessen the impact of the prohibiting factors. Alternatively, you can turn Subjective Data into measurable information. For example, you could setup a Team Radar to ask your team how it is doing living up to the Scrum Values from 1 to 5 (1 being “poor” and 5 being “excellent”).

In my opinion, this is the most fun and most challenging part of the meeting. As the meeting leader, you have an enormous impact on the success of your retrospective by deciding which questions you’ll ask and how the team shares their answers. In order to come up with useful ideas that everyone can agree on, the team needs a shared understanding of the facts and insight into the parts of the project in which they may not have been involved.
What makes a good project retrospective
Reflect on a completed project and looks for opportunities to improve the way they work together in the future. Self-assess against eight attributes found in high-performing teams to understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses, then track your progress. For in-person meetings, everyone grabs a marker and places a dot on their top three preferences. Create a timeline spanning the past two months and have team members call out significant events. Doing this at the start of the Play helps refresh everyone’s memory and sets the stage. A Retrospective over Zoom using Trello to set ground rules, add thoughts, and guide the discussion.
What makes a good project retrospective
The targeted improvements can concern speed, quality, cost, job satisfaction, or any other dimension of the work. Find a time that is suitable for the whole team, and avoid meetings outside regular working hours. If this is not possible for some team members, reach out to them before sending the meeting invitation to make sure they are able to accommodate. Your team will be energized because they’ll have a clear sense of purpose, responsibility, and confidence knowing that everyone has a shared understanding of the expectations and the mission. And, the Project Retro template (built for a run time of 1-3 hours) includes an ice breaker exercise, and ample room for longer discussions within the usual framework. If you need to find consensus on the ideas that emerge, use dot voting to guide the conversation.
What makes a good project retrospective
The key difference between agile retrospectives and lessons learned meetings, is how they are used by teams. A lessons learned meeting is usually held at the end of a project. An agile retrospective is held at the end of a sprint, which lasts between one and four weeks. Teams that use agile retrospectives can generate learnings and implement improvements “mid-project”. Project retrospective meetings are great for extroverts who enjoy sharing their thoughts in a group setting. In contrast, the introverts on your team may not be as willing to share what they’ve learned in a group meeting.