I’ve talked about the goals of a retrospective. Now I’d like to talk about four principles of effective retrospectives. I generally find that principles help me more to be effective while doing my work than do definitions. Principles help to connect the abstract to the actual practice.
One of the principles is that it’s important to understand the goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. That road is, however, unlikely to be a retrospective. As a facilitator, I find the general goals helpful in planning a retrospective. I think that the specific goals are valuable to the participants, and generally discuss them as part of Setting the Stage at the beginning of the retrospective. As always, this is moderated by the understanding of the participants and the time available.
A second principle of retrospectives is that they are separate from ordinary work. While it’s certainly possible to notice things you want to change while you do your work, taking a look while doing nothing else will help you notice things you don’t normally see. Part of this difference is due to the sharpening your focus on observing rather than doing. When you are focused on doing, you suffer from “inattention...read more