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This post is from the CollabNet VersionOne blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated Sep 02, 2011 — Enterprise Agile Planning expert

Taking your Retrospectives from mediocre to magnificent

Enterprise Agile Planning
In part one, I provided an introduction to the Retrospective, a vital, but often forgotten agile event. I provided a few pointers on:
  • How long should a Retrospective be?
  • How to get all team members to participate in a meeting?
  • How to focus in on the most important ‘improvement’ areas unveiled during a Retro meeting?
In this Part II, I’ll tell and show you how you can use VersionOne to manage and excel with your Retrospectives. After you've interacted with VersionOne to plan, manage, track your team’s sprints, it’s critical that you take the time to capture what’s worked and how you plan on getting better. Learning from the past will set up your team for higher levels of effectiveness in the future. Using VersionOne’s top navigation, hover your mouse over Review and click Retrospectives. (Note: Retrospectives are available with the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of VersionOne.) [caption id="attachment_830" align="alignnone" width="300"] Image 1: Accessing Retrospectives[/caption] The Retrospective detail window will appear; this is where the ScrumMaster will collect the feedback from the meeting. Before the meeting, it’s recommended that the ScrumMaster enter the following information into the Detail section:
  • Title
  • Project
  • Sprint
  • Team
  • Agenda
Completing this information beforehand will enable the team to align with the meeting goals and begin sharing feedback immediately instead of getting inundated with logistics. You might want to consider sending the agenda via email a few days in advance of the meeting. This will eliminate surprises from everyone in attendance, and send the message that when this meeting starts: “it’s time to focus”. If your team is all in the same office, go the extra mile and print out the agenda; it won’t be ignored. The heart of the agenda should not change drastically for each Retrospective; it should stay centered on 3 main questions:
  1. What did we do well this iteration?
  2. What could have been improved this iteration?
  3. How can we get better?
[caption id="attachment_831" align="alignnone" width="300"] Image 2: Adding Details[/caption] During the meeting, use the Summary section in the Details window to note all of the comments made by the team. Be sure to capture the list of attendees, "what worked well" and "areas of improvement". [caption id="attachment_832" align="alignnone" width="300"] Image 3: Answering the '3 questions'[/caption] Be diligent about taking copious notes during a retrospective session. These details will power your team’s growth for future sprints, releases and projects. Try to push the team for specifics when citing examples. Good: “The detail provided in Story AB was perfect for helping us understand the story goal and objective; it made building the 5 tasks very easy.” Bad: “I thought the team worked well together this sprint.” The good example gives the team a clear understanding of what type of behavior yields high performance. The bad example provides little to no guidance, leaving too much room for interpretation. Don’t forget the importance of the retrospective meeting. It only happens once per sprint, yet its value stretches far beyond a specific project, release or product. The more you and your team invest in this session, the stronger you’ll become. And don’t forget: Invest in an agile planning and management system to realize the gains from agile. Try VersionOne today.

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