How to continuously improve with retrospectives

Why should I care?

Stepping back and looking for areas to continuously improve your team can skyrocket the team’s efficiency.

What is a retrospective?

A retrospective is an opportunity for a team to reflect on the work it has done, identify what can be improved and to ultimately make those improvements.

There are three key parts to conducting a retrospective with any team, which include:

  • Collect data
  • Look for patterns
  • Determine actions

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change

 Stephen Hawking

With a retrospective, you want to find out why something took longer (or shorter) than expected or if anything out of the ordinary occurred since the last time you conducted a retrospective. Once identified, you can make adjustments to get your team back on track.

You can search improvements by answering the following questions with your team:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go so well?
  3. What have I learned?
  4. What still puzzles me?

Also, visualizing your work makes it simple to identify potential areas for improvement.

The goal is to use the results of your retrospective to continuously improve your team.

It’s critical that suggested improvements (that provide sufficient value to the team) are actioned.

How do I run a retrospective?

1

Make retrospectives frequent (can be regular or ad-hoc)

Set up a meeting, email chain, web form or whatever works for you

2

Collect data

Visualize your work and ask questions within your team, such as “What went well/not so well? What have I learned? What still puzzles me?

3

Find patterns

Look at the data and decide what needs to be improved and what to do more of

4

Determine actions

Assign actions to your team to implement the improvements

5

Repeat

Make sure to continuously improve the team

What to watch out for

  • Only pointing out the bad
  • Not creating actions for improvements
  • People not speaking up and “following the group”

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