What a Retrospective Ain’t


Last week I heard someone espousing a new form of project review called a Retrospective. Here’s what she advised:

Anonymous feedback via survey or questionnaire

Ranking of questionnaire results

Functional groups discussing questionnaire results in isolation

Tightly controlled discussion of topics selected by the facilitator

Limited participation (enforced by the facilitator)

Lists of “good” and “bad” practices

Formal improvement projects

No! No! No!

The process above may be something, but it ain’t a Retrospective, and it ain’t going to promote individual or group learning.

The value of Retrospectives comes from:

  • seeing the project in a different way
  • people understanding other’s points of view
  • hearing the story of the project from many perspectives
  • reflecting on experiences
  • cross-functional pollination
  • open discussion of tough issues
  • team members identifying what they feel worked well and what to do differently
  • team members choosing what’s important to talk about
  • team members choosing what to work on going forward