A couple of years ago, I did an agile project with a lot of iterations. At the end of each iteration we held a retrospective. All of these retrospectives had the same agenda and each agenda item was implemented the same way over and over again. Though we found aspects to improve every retrospective, it became a weekly grind. Starting an new project with over 40 sprints I was questioning myself: How can those retrospectives stay interesting for the team, even after dozens of sprints?
The goal of a retrospective is to learn from the last iteration. This is usually done by looking back and by defining some points of improvement for the next iteration. A very basic technique is letting the team telling each other what went well and what could be improved. However when the team does this every week – our sprints had a length of just one week – for a longer period of time, it can become very boring.
Fortunately, there are some websites that contain all kind of retrospective techniques (see below). When I started this project, I just tried one of these techniques: the happiness diagram. The team only had experienced the basic form of retrospective and was enthusiastic about this way of doing the retrospective. It decided to want continue this technique, which eventually resulted in the next happiness graph.
Knowing that even though the team liked this technique it would bore them, I decided to introduce a new technique the next sprint. The was surprised that another techniques (next to the happiness diagram) was used in that retrospective to which they participate enthusiastically.
As I kept changing the techniques each retrospective the team was wondering which technique would be used in the upcoming retro. They even tried to cheat by looking in he project repository.
During the project I used over 20 different techniques. I choose a technique based on my observations during the sprint. I develop a new technique: the tick tack boom game. Sometimes I needed to take some attributes from home, like the colorful hats for the 6 thinking hats retro, or I used the traditional instruments like a piece of paper, sticky notes and a lot of pens. But every retro invited the team to participate, have fun, bring their ideas, concerns and benefits and have an open discussion.
A team likes a continuous change of the retrospective techniques. They told me that these changes forced them to look to our project for a different perspective every sprint. This brought them interesting new ideas. It makes them actively participate in this important agile meeting. And most important, the team kept improving over and over again.
If you became inspired:.