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What is an Agile Retrospective?

Agile Retrospective

Typically, two meetings were held at the end of an iteration: the sprint review, which focuses on the product’s feedback, and the sprint Agile retrospective focusing on the team and the process used in software delivery. This article focuses on retrospectives (Scrum) to help teams improve their working methods continuously.

The 12th agile principle states: “The team regularly reflects on how to be more effective, then tunes and adjusts the behavior accordingly.”  Agile retrospectives are an excellent way for teams to improve their way of working continuously. Obtaining and carrying workable actions out of a retrospective helps teams to learn and improve.

It is essential to understand what they are and why you want to do agile retrospectives. It helps make valuable retrospectives and “sell” retrospectives in your teams easier. This motivates team members to participate actively and openly.

What is an Agile retrospective?

An Agile retrospective is a meeting held in Agile Software Development (ASD) at the end of an iteration. The team will reflect on what happened in the iteration during the retrospective and identify actions for improvement.

The Agile retrospective can be regarded as a meeting of “lessons learned.” The team thinks about how it was all provided and then decides what changes they want to make in the next iteration. The retrospective is team-led, and team members decide how the meetings are conducted and how improvements are chosen together.

Because Agile highlights the importance of constant improvement. A regular agile retrospective is one of the essential practices for agile development. “Regularly, the team reflects on how to get more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly,” stated the 9th Agile principle in the Agile manifesto.

The formats vary from the following essential structure to all proper retrospective operations:

  • Discovery: The whole team reveals and understands the current situation. It could include a debate on the issues that went well or poorly and have a wide range of subjects from technical practice to personal relations. The outcome of these discussions can then be organized or focused on addressing the most relevant questions.
  • Options: Potential solutions will be considered once a clear understanding of fields needs to be improved. In pointing out as many ideas as possible and exploring beyond the apparent responses in the first few minutes, the facilitator will probably play an active role.
  • Actions: With all available options, the discussion now identifies a small number of practical and committed improvements implemented by the team. It is good practice to restrict the actions undertaken to one or two small, realistic changes that offer real benefits.

Agile retrospectives represent a time and effort invested in a specifically skilled workforce to increase this team’s performance. They are based on the principle that a powerful, successful team can achieve high performance through small, incremental changes. The results can be gratifying over time, such as the compound interest in a savings account. That is why retrospectives are most effective in developing stable teams supported by the organization on a long-term basis.

Why would you do retrospectives?

To keep working and to deliver value, organizations need to improve. Classical organization improvements by using (large) programs take too long and are often inefficient and ineffective. We need to find better ways to improve, and it can offer solutions retrospectively. Many agile teams use retrospectives to help solve and improve their problems.

What distinguishes retrospectives from traditional improvements? It’s the significant benefits that teams can achieve. The team is responsible for the agile retrospective. They can focus on improving and resolving the problems that hamper their progress. Agile retrospectives give the team the strength it belongs. When the team members feel empowered, the group is more involved in actions that lead to less resistance to the retrospective actions’ actual changes.

A further advantage is that the team agrees and carries out actions retrospectively. The team leads its efforts! There is no handover. They analyze what happened, identify the activities and monitor team members. The product owner and users can participate in the improvements if needed, but the team controls the actions. It is much more effective, fast, and affordable to groups who lead their improvement journey than handing over efforts between teams and other organization members.

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Retrospectives provide a platform for celebrating success and thinking about failures. Team members can discuss the progress that made in the next sprint. Retrospective promotes participation, shares interests and opinions, and leads the team towards a friendly solution.

Final note

Agile retrospectives are a great way to improve the working method continuously. Like any other agile practice, retrospective adoption is an organizational change when professionals adjust their work and behavior. It will not just occur, but it may take a long time or even fail if it not adequately supported. So, when you begin retrospective work, clarify the objective and set up a team of capable retrospective facilitators. Then start with your agile teams and think about how they do.

To be agile is hard work, and resistance to change may have to be addressed. Once you are agile, it will be easier to do things. If your culture and mindset are agile, things begin to occur, and decisions regarding do’s and don’ts often get easier. It often helps you to remain agile by thinking about your agile journey.

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