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6 Tips To Run An Effective Retrospective With Remote Teams

By Mircea Ranca, Product Owner, Cognizant Softvision

What is a Team Retrospective meeting and why do we use them?

Teams who use the Agile software development methodology use retrospective sessions, which are meetings typically held at the end of each sprint or, in some cases, at the end of the project. A team retrospective is a team-based activity that helps create a learning culture around team members by helping them adapt to changes and become more effective.

During retrospective meetings, team members should aim to identify what worked well during the last sprint, what went not-so-well and what they want to keep in their current working process. At the end of each session, team members should be aware of the highest priority item that they want to address, how it can be addressed, and how to measure the success.

Stages of a Team Retrospective Meeting:

  • Set the stage
  • Gather data
  • Generate insights
  • Decide what to do
  • Close the retrospective

Running an Effective Retrospective Remotely

Running retrospectives remotely can be challenging, especially for large distributed teams. Below you can find a few tips and tricks which may help you to have an effective retrospective virtually.

1. Make retrospective sessions a tradition

  • Include a retrospective meeting in your teammates’ calendars in advance so they can better prepare for the meeting and think about things they want to discuss.

2. Make sure that everyone is actively involved from the start

  • Motivate people to turn on their cameras — it’s always nice to see each other’s faces.
  • Start your meeting with an interactive activity, such as a poll.

3. Rely on tools:

  • There are few tools online which can facilitate team-building activities:
  • — An online retro tool that everyone can open and use immediately. It’s customizable, boasts good functionality and can export outcomes.
  • Google jamboard Allows team members to post virtual sticky notes on a shared whiteboard with five different formats
  • Add a fun twist to your retrospective by allowing participants to present their perspective about the sprint in a unique way:
  • Using the Song Maker tool, you can ask each participant to create a song that represents the last sprint or could represent what the next sprint should look like in order to be successful. Play each song for the entire group, then ask them about the song and what makes them feel that way.

4. Use the start-stop-continue concept: Identify things that you should stop doing, start doing or continue to do.

5. Share the outputs followed by an open discussion

  • Share answers on the screen and review the results from the survey together
  • Follow up on what people have written
  • Ask people to propose concept steps for improvement
  • Encourage people to raise questions

6. Make decisions and agree on the next steps: Make sure the ideas you’ve discussed throughout the meeting are turned into actionable next steps.

Finally, the main thing to remember is that retrospective sessions must be engaging and productive. Take these tips to your next meeting!

Sources used as inspiration for this article:


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