What is a retrospective and why is it important?
Retrospective is another agile software development ritual, which is usually held at the very end of the sprint, with all team members present. In the meeting, it is discussed what went well in the previous sprint and what needs to be improved. Every team member gets to voice their opinion on both what went well and the improvement points, after which the points are discussed as a team, and the team agrees what needs to be changed (if anything) for the next sprint to (also) be a success.
The goal is to not make the same mistakes again in the next sprint, and to acknowledge and keep doing the activities that were a success.
Tools for holding a retrospective
In a face-to-face work environment, the retrospective is often held using post-it notes and/or a whiteboard, however, in the case of remote teams, you can use Google Docs, or a retrospective-specific tool available online, such as https://easyretro.io/ (there are many options, this is just one of them). The main requirement for the tool is that everyone can write at the same time, and also see what has been written by other team members.
Questions to ask yourself about the previous sprint
A retrospective can be held in multiple ways but generally each team member would have to answer some questions. For the sake of simplicity, let's ask
What went well last sprint?
What should be improved in the future?
Everyone in the team should note down bullet points or list items that come to their mind about each of those questions, however many there are.
Example retro points of what went well:
Example retro points of what could be improved:
Analysing the outcomes and taking action
When everyone has had their turn to share, discuss the items listed within the team, and see if there are any recurring items that can be grouped together or if there are some things that are really important to discuss and/or improve to ensure the team's success next sprint.
When discussing the items with the team, try to identify key points that contributed to your success (stuff you did well) and key points you would like to improve (so, probably stuff that's most critical or most mentioned or both). Make these key points into action points. When it comes to action points, it's important that they actually are clear and actionable, have a deadline/schedule and someone who is responsible for this action point. For example improve communication is a terrible action point, although communication is probably something that does need to be improved, in the current format, this is too broad and not actionable enough. Try to aim for action points that are specific and can be done within the upcoming sprint.
Assessing the action points from previous sprint
During retrospective, the team should also take a look at the action points agreed during the previous sprint and see if something needs to still be followed up on.