The retrospective is a very important moment for a team that works with Agile methods, such as Scrum, Kanban or eXtreme Programming. At Mia‑Platform, each team periodically organizes its own retrospective and at the end of a project.
In this historic moment in which many of us are working remotely, one of our teams managed not to miss this precious opportunity to reflect and, indeed, to make it even more useful by involving people and bringing out new ideas and proposals.
Therefore, we interviewed Federico Maggi, a Mia‑Platform Scrum Master, and he showed us how he made his team’s retrospective easier, the tools he used, and the poetic licenses he adopted in comparison with the classic retrospective.
Federico has developed a convenient template on Google Sheets that has allowed him to make everyone participate, to guide the retrospective, and to bring out new proposals and actions to be taken.
In this article we will tell you in detail which are the steps to follow which facilitate a remote retrospective, and how to use the tool created by Federico.
Then, we will tell you about our direct experience hoping that it will be an inspiration for your team.
To begin, click the button below to download the Excel version template in which you will be able to find some examples. Then, we recommend you to open it with Google Sheets or with any other tool that allows you to work on it and share it with your team. We used Google Sheets on our shared drive.
To set up our retrospective and to write this article, we took inspiration from the book Agile Retrospective, making good teams great, of which you can find the references at the bottom of the page.
What is a retrospective?
Before going into further detail about our tool, we would like to say a few words about what a retrospective is. It is a particular meeting in which the team can reflect in a guided way on the progress of a specific project – or its work in general – over a given period of time. Retrospectives are part of the continuous improvement within the company and enable change: the interruption of actions that do not bring benefits and the generation of virtuous behavior.
The twelfth principle of the Agile Manifesto refers precisely to this and states:
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
1. Set the stage, that is: how to prepare the ground and allow everyone to interact
In a normal and live retrospective, it is important that everyone feels comfortable to interact. In a remote retrospective, it becomes even more important to find ways to involve everyone and quickly enter into reflection.
We have used the one word method: describe how the project went in one word. There are no strict rules, except being able to really express in one word and avoid – for the Scrum Master – somehow suggesting participants to express concepts related to emotional states.
Giving space to everyone from the very beginning enables greater sharing in the following steps.
Thanks to this way of check-in the retrospective, everyone can express their opinion in a concise way and therefore make their own contribution to the success of the reflection.
This first phase can last no more than 5 minutes but has great value. Those with little experience with retrospectives tend to skip this step to go straight to the point. For fear of wasting time, we risk losing it in the following phases: people who are not involved from the first moment tend not to contribute at all in the following phases and then lose focus. Therefore, the advice is not to skip this step and to dedicate the necessary time to it.
Here is an example of the first phase with the one word method: