Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Continuous Retrospective

What is Retrospective?
  • Retrospective is a periodic meeting involving the entire team for the purpose of inspecting and adapting methods and teamwork.
  • The goal of the retrospective is to determine concrete actions that can be taken during the next sprint to help the team improve.
Why do we have Retrospective?
  • To improve the communication
  • To improve the team's capability
  • To improve productivity
  • To improve product quality
What is Continuous Retrospective?

 Continuous Retrospective is inspired by the retrospective practice.  It is not same as Retrospective meeting that the team has at the end of every Iteration. It can also be called as Continuous Feedback Board which provides effective mechanism for improvements within the team.

I have seen number of events, conferences that use Continuous Retrospectives to gather and immediately act on any feedback. The organizers establish a wall with sticky notes, markers and some clearly marked columns. They used this input to change the conference format and act on any feedback provided the day before. Most of conferences this wall is placed towards the entrance or exit.

Continuous Retrospective can be used on Agile projects as well. One can set up a wall with sticky notes, markers and some clearly marked columns. Each member of the team can put sticky on the wall as and when needed. The team can then check the sticky next day after the stand up and can have a quick discussion about the same and agree on the action item. One can also put the sticky limit of X before team discusses all the sticky notes as a group. So as and when number of sticky notes on the Continuous Retrospective Board goes upto or beyond X, team will come together to discuss and identify the action item for each of them.

Some teams establish a continuous Retrospective wall to gather retrospective data. Members are encouraged to put up sticky notes with their input on the wall. Minor items that team feels they can can address are dealt with immediately and taken down. A significant number of notes left on the wall after end of Iteration then triggers a normal retrospective with the notes providing the input for the retrospective.

Advantages of Continuous Retrospective:
  • Team doesn't have to wait for end of Iteration to raise concern or appreciation
  • Team can immediately act upon the action identified
  • It is less likely that team members will miss out any important event which happens mostly during the normal Retrospective at the end of Iteration or Release retrospective.
  • Even if team uses the inputs from the wall for normal retrospective it helps to save the time spent on gathering inputs during the retrospective event.
Drawbacks of Continuous Retrospective:
  • Conversation can be one way, with attendees putting up whatever they like without any motivation to help or implement improvements.
  • some of the feedback may include actions that are not feasible or that are unlikely to be achieved until after the period, whilst other information can contradict each other, leading to confusion about the action.
  • Teams should monitor time spent in discussions on the sticky notes, it is more likely that team end up spending lot of time on wall inputs instead of identifying action.
References: http://retrospectivewiki.org/index.php?title=Main_Page