Retrospective meeting – Simple techniques helping you to moderate the dialogue with the Team

Retrospective meetings are recurring meetings that will normally take place after the sprint review meeting. These are very important moments to make a team think about what can be improved. But sometime there are moments when the team is faced with some difficulties in dealing with problems.
I have to say that this contribution is oriented towards jointly based teams because the retrospective meetings for geographically dispersed teams may have different approaches.
This would be an issue that should be addressed in future contributions, because it is really very interesting.
We can say that every retrospective meeting, for the residents or for distributed teams, always has 5 different phases:

  1. Make a status update on the actions taken since the last retrospective (5-10 min);
  2. Collect data about the just finished sprint (10-15 min);
  3. Listen to all team members in all points that you have raised individually (20-30 min);
  4. Collective agreement for the measures to be taken (15-20 min);
  5. Finish the retrospective that ensures that all tasks are assigned (5-10 min).

This contribution will mainly support phases 2 to 4.
As far as Phase 2 (collecting data) is concerned, the normal process would be for a nearby team: the scrum Master has a moderation role in the retrospective and begins the meeting with the analysis of the sprint:

  • What went well?
  • What could be improved?
The answer to these questions can be made orally or in written form in the post-its. When the team decides to engage in a dialogue on these issues, the scrum master must moderate the discussion (in terms of time to discuss the issue and focus on the topic addressed).
After a brief discussion, some actions have to be proposed:
  • What do you want to stop?
  • What do you think?
  • What do you want to start?
If the team raises a number of different ways for the action to take place per action, then I propose to vote on which proposal to implement.
Another technique, which is more oriented towards action and does not offer as much room for discussion, is exemplary the second panel in the picture: here the team posts their opinions and suggestions about each line:
  • What you want more?
  • What you want to have less?
  • What you want to keep?
  • What do you want to stop?
  • What do you want to start?
After this exercise, the scrum master should eliminate duplicate suggestions and promote a healthy discussion to achieve the actions that the entire team agrees to.
It is really very important to assume the moderation role of the Scrum Master in order to reach a joint agreement within the team (Phase 4 collective Agreement for the measures to be taken). All tasks that are defined during the retrospective should be collected in arrears. Of course, the whole meeting can be organized without any digital support, only with an open and transparent dialogue and the Scrum Master will continue the generated post-its and tasks, but there are many tools to make retrospective meetings even To make more productive. These tools, especially web-based applications, play an extremely important role for distributed teams, but can also be useful to support teams if they want to have an automatic integration of the inputs from the retrospective into the backlog application. But as I said, this will be the subject of a new contribution!

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