What is a retrospective? All About Retrospectives

“If you can come up with a way to make a big visualization of that change, it encourages people to act,” he said. Another common issue in retrospectives is that even if people do speak up, they may withhold from sharing what they actually are thinking. Rather, they’ll say what they think the team wants to hear. “While on the surface there’s a good conversation, everybody has their spidey-sense going off. They know that something underneath the surface isn’t being discussed, but no one feels comfortable enough to talk about whatever it is,” Horowitz explained. This can slow down the team’s progress and make it difficult to address the issues the team needs to move forward.

Instead, we should be looking for ways to learn from our lucky breaks and design ways to be successful that we can manage directly. Leading a really great retrospective takes skill that you can only gain through experience. A step-by-step guide on how to drive a scrum project, prioritize and organize your backlog into sprints, run the scrum ceremonies and more, all in Jira. “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”

Close The Retrospective (5 min)

If any of the action items have corresponding Jira issues, include links to them on the page so it’s easy to see their status. Discuss each idea as a team, and assign owners to these actions and due dates as necessary. Participants should walk away from the retrospective with a better sense of how the project was experienced by everyone involved. It is an opportunity for customer support to share how they were inundated with complaints about a clunky rollout or how the UX team delivered really clear wireframes that sped up the coding process. In traditional project management the term lessons learned is use. Participants share a single word to describe their feelings or impression of the sprint.

definition of project retrospective

The group reviews the project, discusses what worked well (and what didn’t), and identifies specific ways to improve future work. I’ve shared a lot here, and there’s even more in the guide. This is the bulk of the meeting, where you talk about what you learned that you will hand off to other teams or use to change what you do going forward. 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. Instructions and variations on the classic team retrospective.

Find Similar Words

Have everyone write down what they think can be improved, one idea per note. Post the notes, and group similar or duplicate ideas together. Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat those mistakes in the future. This concept has been preached by many in a variety of disciplines, and product development is no exception. Milanote boards can be a private place to think, or a shared workspace for collaboration—you’re in total control of who sees what. Instantly see your team’s changes, leave comments, and never miss a thing with smart notifications and alerts.

definition of project retrospective

Her work has appeared in publications such as Quartz, the Village Voice, Gothamist, and Slate. To get the best possible experience please use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge to view this website. If a lot of ideas emerge in the “Actions” category, vote on which ones you’ll immediately prioritize.


This learning series explores the pieces that make up the Scrum Framework. By the end of the Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team should have identified improvements that it will implement in the next Sprint. Implementing these improvements in the next Sprint is the adaptation to the inspection of the Scrum Team itself. Although improvements may be implemented at any time, the Sprint Retrospective provides a formal opportunity to focus on inspection and adaptation.

This way, everyone has an opportunity to speak up without being cut off by others who may not have anything helpful to say about the topic at hand. The most important thing about a project retrospective meeting is that everyone, including the client, should be involved in it. However, if you’re a team leader or manager, you must lead this meeting. Assign one person as the chairperson who will set up the agenda and guide participants through different topics throughout the session. To fix these issues, the team should have followed the five phased approach to effective agile retrospectives.

Phase 5: Close The Retrospective

While introspection involves looking inward and taking stock of oneself, retrospection is all about recollecting and contemplating things that happened in the past. Once you have retrospective and retrospection behind https://www.globalcloudteam.com/ you, you can also add their kin retrospect and retro to your vocabulary, too. As described in the Scrum Guide, the purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness.

  • In Scrum it’s usually the whole Scrum team with dev team, PO and SM.
  • The team creates a timeline of the last two months with important events and call-outs.
  • Have people write down whatever events occurred that were meaningful to them, or had an impact on the team.
  • Find similar words to retrospective using the buttons below.
  • You can go around in a circle or call on specific people as needed.

And when you need to change things up, explore more retrospective templates to spark engaging conversations. Project retrospective meetings are a great way to turn insights into actionable items. Getting clear on key insights and breaking them down into clear action items is a great way to get everyone on track for the next phase of the project.

The Advantages of Gathering Data

Many teams start their retrospective with Start Stop Continue. Use this technique to help brainstorm a list of potential actions the team can take after it has identified an issue it wants to work on during Generating project retrospective Insights. Many teams struggle with follow-through on their Action Items. For those teams, it can be useful to start each retrospective with a review of the team’s Action Items from the previous retrospective.

definition of project retrospective

We recommend running a retrospective with your team every couple of weeks or at the end of a project milestone. Any major release or project deserves a retrospective and should be held within a week of shipping before people forget what happened and move on to the next thing. Retrospectives can be held more frequently, including for minor releases, each sprint or even at daily or weekly standups. Although pointing out the flaws and problems encountered is important, participants are equally encouraged to bring up the positive aspects as well. The meeting should be considered a safe space for bringing up contentious issues and contrarian views for it to be as productive and insightful as possible.

What does a retrospective look like?

During this phase, you’d do a brief check-in to get the temperature of the room and get everyone on the same page and mindset so they are better prepared for reflection. “The idea is if you just take a group of software developers who are doing deep technical work and throw them all the sudden from that mindset into , ‘What’s going well and what’s not going well? ’ Of course, there’ll be low engagement because it’s too hard to switch how your brain is operating that fast,” he explained. The most successful retrospectives often include shaking up the atmosphere, either by taking things off-site to a new location or bringing in some food or drinks to boost the conviviality.