Designers Retrospective Rituals

The WHY, HOW, and WHAT

Iosipratama
Oct 20, 2020 · 6 min read

This is one of our secrets within Itsavirus Design Team in order to always moving forward together as designers.

We called the ritual Designer Retrospective

Similar to Retrospective activity in Scrum Methodologies. The retrospective time or we call it Retro in a short term is a dedicated time to reflect how we have been working in a certain period/sprint.

We use Retro to look back what works well and what didn’t so we can learn from our past experiences. Keep up the good thing and improve what’s still bad.

In Itsavirus Design Team itself, we have been doing Design Retrospective 5 times. I will share the details on what section.

The result is quite impactful. We observed and collected our obstacles then together we initiate how we can consolidate that.

WHY

Currently, I’m working in a software agency called Itsavirus. Back then, about a year ago the designers were only two. Including me. That means before I join the designer only one.

Together with my senior and lead designer Dwi Asri here we handle projects that come in. But, we are working on a different project.

After working for a while we realised there are some struggles and challenges when doing the project alone.

We have our own obstacles and unique conditions that we face in our project.

1. The clients are not quite clear regarding what they want.

2. Lack of clarity in the project.

3. Got unconstructive feedbacks

4. We are confused about how to ask the right question

5. Change element in Sketch one by one. It took a lot of times.

6. Inconsistency in design

7. Complain from the developer when in development phase

8. The content changes while in designing phase

9. Vague user stories

and much more than that

Those are something worth sharing then see if we can do it in a better way. Otherwise, it will make the frustration and waste of time in our side (designers).

So it quite clear that we have our own problems and challenges, or sometimes the same.

The next part is how do we together solve that problems?

Let’s move into the HOW section to find out our answer.

HOW

In the WHY section, we agreed we have something to do regarding our challenges when doing the project.

We need time to talk about this

After hundred of minutes talking with Dwi Asri (I think you still remember who is she). We need to do a reflection and evaluation in dedicated time.

So, we experiment what if we do the retrospective same as in Scrum but here focused on the designer work.

Since we work in a different project. We think this is a good idea. Then, we set the schedule and do it for the first time.

WHAT

Long story short, we have been doing the Designers Retrospective 5 times. One a month and around 45 minutes — 1 hour.

For the details, we have been done different type of workshop or retro activities.

Mostly we use online collaboration tools instead of post-it and board. We think its more effective, efficient, and didn’t cost more money to buy the tools.

What works well and worse

The first Designer Retrospective we did in February 2020. This is the simplest one to evaluate how the way we work. Done by Dwi and Me.

We used Dropbox Paper to do this retro.

Firstly, we ask a question

What worked well in the last month?

Second question

What didn’t work well?

We list everything went bad from our perspective. Then, we categorise that based on some categories (How to Give Feedback, Structure & Flow, Design Process, and Others)

After that, we vote. Every one of us has at least 10 votes. Then we can vote on certain things in the “what didn’t work well” section.

We will follow up the most voted thing into an actionable for the future.

Speed Boat Retro

The second design retrospective we did is Speed Boat workshop. At this time, we have an additional designer. So, now we are three.

Yeay. His name is Aris.

Let’s back to the Speed Boat Retro. This is how it works.

We use Dropbox Paper to collaborate within the workshop.

The island represents the goals to be achieved.

The sailboat represents us (designers).

The wind represents all the elements that could help designers working better.

The anchors represent factors that slow down or decrease our productivity.

Finally, the reefs represent future obstacles that have been identified, which the team is likely to encounter in the next iterations.

After that, we vote on something that decreases our productivity and tries to make an actionable commitment to it.

The 3rd Retrospective

The third designer retrospective we did something similar to the first retro.

The 4th & 5th Retrospective we did Team Canvas workshop

Team Canvas is a workshop that aims to align visions, goals, and values among designers.

We use Miro as a collaboration tool here.

You can find out details about Team Canvas here.

Fun Fact: This Itsavirus Design Publication also exist because of Team Canvas especially values section where want to share something regarding our experience to designers out there.

Yup, I think that’s enough for this writing to share about one of our rituals in Itsavirus Design Team called Designer Retrospective.

We still try to consistently do it. Sometimes, we find it difficult to set the schedule because of our different deadline. Then, it causes to do it in the later time.

Any thoughts or questions regarding this writing? Let’s share through the comment section.

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Itsavirus Design

Stories from Itsavirus’s design team