The Prime Directive

The retrospectives prime directive is a statement that needs to be considered as an assumption by every participant of every sprint. The purpose of the Prime Directive is to assure that a retrospective has the right purpose and the right culture in order to keep the focus results oriented and to be a positive experience for everyone involved.

Everyone in the meeting should participate and keep in mind the goal of the meeting.

The prime directive transforms your retrospectives sessions from “a dull meeting for ‘finger-pointing’ ”, to an effective team gathering looking to learn and find solutions to improve the way of working.

This is the prime directive:

“Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

(The prime directive is written by Norm Kerth, and featured in his book: Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Review)

When you first talk about a retrospective to people who is not familiar with #Agile methodologies, some think of it like a sort of ‘let’s find who did it’ or a ‘blaming game’, therefore people is not that enthusiastic about holding a retrospective session.

The prime directive’s purpose is to clarify that we are not looking to blame, or find out who is not doing what they’re supposed to. In fact, It assumes everyone did their best for the achieved result. So, the retrospective session becomes a safe place to voice their opinion, with having to worry about being judged or blamed.

Bottomline, retrospectives’ purpose is to find out what your team can do better. Not who did what wrong.

Retrospective: A place for discussions for team improvement.

Remember, the key to having valuable retrospectives sessions is team communication with trust. The prime directive paves the way to it.

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