Yes, if they are not focused and structured well. The key question here is, “Why are we doing sprint retrospectives anyway?” Is it because it’s mentioned in some top-notch Agile book? Is it because the Scrum Master wants it? Is it because it’s as mandatory as daily stand up? Is it because the tech writer did not get inputs for documentation and here’s an opportunity to screw development guys? Is it because I have nothing much to do after a long and tiresome Sprint exit? Well, the list goes on.
Perhaps it’s time to remind the team, one of the core principles of Agile Manifesto, “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”
Purpose: To capture best practices and improvement areas upon the completion of a sprint so that problems can be addressed and successes repeated in the future.
The Party: The scrum team are all present. There’s one facilitator who leads the team through the process. He should be as unbiased as possible, which means the facilitator is often not part of the project team (usually a Scrum Master).
Timing: Soon after the completion of the sprint, so that participants still have it fresh in their minds.
Time: Usually a couple of hours.
Setting: This exercise is best performed in a conference room with a table and plenty of wall space or a whiteboard.
Supplies: Post-it in 3 different colors (optimal is green, red, yellow), markers, and freshly brewed coffee.
Guidelines: Retrospective process is not for finding fault, but for learning how to do it better next time. Only the participant presenting his/her idea should be speaking – Don’t cut him short.
- Three columns on the whiteboard – What went well? What can be improved? Actions.
- The team collectively set about writing one item per post-it what they feel was good and/or bad about the iteration they’ve just completed. Everybody gets around 5-10 minutes to write down their points. During that time no discussions are allowed, it is only about collecting items.
- They paste it on the What went Well or What can be improved columns.
- Facilitator picks one post-it from reads it. The participant who wrote it describes the describes her idea/suggestion to the group. Other participants would not make comments agreeing or disagreeing with the idea being presented. Only questions of clarification may be asked.
- The facilitator then selects the next participant to present his idea. This goes on until all participants have presented one idea.
- When everyone has had their turn, the post-its are categorized into topics and grouped together. (New comments, suggestions, and ideas during the discussion are captured on a new note and added to the appropriate group.)
- Once all of the groups of notes have been discussed, the facilitator would summarize the findings, identify action items, write them on post-it and puts them on the Action items column. Top priority items are addressed as soon as possible, preferably in the next Sprint. Team can vote and decide the priority.
- Action points are published to the team and relevant stakeholders (usually on team Wiki). Keep revisiting them until they are completed. Sprint wise retrospective summary and action points are accessible at a central location any time.
That’s all. Enjoy your retrospectives