Agile Software Development

How to Make Retrospectives Interesting Again: 9 Techniques

Retrospectives are necessary for your team’s improvement. However, it can get stale if you do not add a bit of zing to it. In this article at Atlassian, Sarah Goff-Dupont shares several tips to make retrospectives interesting again.

Adding Variations to Retrospectives

Retrospectives are a waste when no new ideas come up or fewer participants attend every meeting. Following are the ways you can make retrospectives interesting again:

Marking the Timeline: Draw a horizontal line on a whiteboard. Ask teammates to mark significant milestones, major challenges, addition or release of team members, key breakthroughs, etc. Utilize the initial 10 to 15 minutes of the meeting to revise previous activities and prepare to work on the latter.

The Start, Stop, and Continue Technique: This technique is useful for people that feel uncomfortable sharing their opinions openly during retrospectives. Create three columns—Start, Stop, and Continue. Give the teammates a timebox of 10 to 30 minutes. They can share their ideas for each column on a sticky note.

The 4Ls: Allow teammates to spend 10 minutes for each L—Like, Loathed, Lacked, and Learned. What did they like in the previous session? What did they loathe? What did they lack? What did they learn?

The Human Touch: Set aside some time in the retrospectives to talk about the people in the project. Let them share their expectations, expectations, conflicts, etc. Resolving issues between people can resolve half the problems in the project.

The 5 Whys: Ask the team 5 basic questions in the retrospectives. For example, why a failure happened. When this is answered, ask why that led to such a situation. Continue asking until you hit upon the root cause of the failure.

Dot Voting: After receiving multiple solutions, make people vote by placing dots on three ideas they want to prioritize. List the prioritized items. Ask why the idea is better than the rest and what would happen if the team did not do it.

Reflection: At the end of the retrospectives, ask teammates the discussed items that appeared significant for them. This allows all to contribute equally and add value to the meetings.

Silly Hats: Encourage everyone to wear funny hats to the retrospective meetings just to ward off unwanted seriousness. It would make the team feel a sense of being together in seriousness and silliness.

Appreciation: Some people go out of their way to help the team and these deeds are often taken for granted. Leave the last 5 minutes to acknowledge the hard work of these members to end on a good note.

Dwindling attendees can be because of several reasons. Create a safe space for those that feel their concerns are being used against them. Encourage people to experiment if they think their ideas are not taken seriously. Make retrospectives a habit for those members that feel meetings are a waste of time.

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