The Retrospective is a key ceremony and, IMO, it is critical to approach the process in the right way.
I use the traditional format of
- Set the Scene
- Gather Data
- Generate Insight
- Decide Action
- Close Down
All told there are somewhere in the region of 80-100 potential activities that can be used across each of the five stages although some activities have become commonplace.
This a completely subjective approach may can be used to inform your own retrospectives.
A full Scrum Team in a Business Intelligence environment working within a corporation using waterfall for most projects. Team consists of Scrum Master, Line Manager/Architecture Expert, Product Owner, Deputy Product Owner, Developers.
As the Scrum Master I have banned management from the Retrospectives in order to give the team privacy and assurance they can speak without retribution.
I aggregate and anonymise all data before presenting a transparent actions report following the meeting. All developers are protected.
Set the Scene
Each participant is provided with an A4 sheet for making notes and also asking 4 questions.
- Question 1 is for the start of the Retrospective.
Do you consider yourself an Explorer | Shopper | Vacationer | Prisoner > Tick One
I then pose a verbal question.
- Why do we do Retrospectives > Pick one individual and ask them to reiterate
- What do you want from this Retro > Pick one individual and ask them to reiterate
Normally with a question to the team I use the technique Pose, Pause, Pounce and nominate someone to answer.
For this aspect I have a round-robin of activities but the most effective has been listing the Agile Principles and asking the team to note on post-its examples of where they get it right / wrong or where we focus on the items on the right more than the items on the left.
There are over 40 different ways to gather data regarding the previous Sprint or timebox. As a Scrum Master you should maintain a list of your preferred options and the latest thinking on the subject.
Break for coffee
A considerable number of ways to generate insight (40+) also exist however the traditional methods include the 5 Why's which is extremely popular.
Traditionally the Stop, Start, Continue method has dominated the Retrospective ceremony however you can also use a Low Hanging Fruit tree with "fruit" being replaced with actions which are ranked according to speed and impact. You can use dot voting, roman voting and other consensus building methods.
At this point I like to get feedback on my facilitation skills so I ask the team to refer back to their A4 page and answer the remaining three questions anonymously.
- I Was Heard > 1 being absolutely not and 10 being very much so
- This Was Useful > 1 - 10
- Things will get done > 1 - 10
In addition you can ask the team to volunteer for actions in order to drive through the change and own the team's improvement.
My final action is to turn the entire thing into an Infographic and post publicly for all to see whilst checking the status of the action items.
I have included some of the examples I use below