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Interim Report for FY24

Eagle Eye Interim Report 2024

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3 min read

A Retrospective Perspective

A Retrospective Perspective


Retrospectives first appeared for us when we adopted agile ways of working back in 2016. Fast forward to today, some of our sprint teams have them every sprint, some have them monthly, some factor time into their daily stand-ups and yes, some no longer have them. Beyond our sprint teams, retrospectives are common across different areas of the business such as Delivery and Sales.

Retrospective 101

Retrospection is defined as "the action of looking back on or reviewing past events or situations."  A retrospective is a feedback opportunity with and for the team where the team looks back on a period of time to reflect on what went well, what didn't, and how they can improve.

"At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly."

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

Most retrospectives involve open questions by numbers, so the start/stop/ continue retrospective is three open questions:

  1. What should we start doing?
  2. What should we stop doing?
  3. What should we continue doing?

split into three columns for feedback and discussion as a team.

The typical format for a retrospective is to set the scene as a safe space and give the team some quiet time to pause and reflect. Then, discuss and group the points raised as a team to gather insight and identify what the team can try to make their lives simpler/faster/better.

What are the top ten retrospectives?

The question which sparked this blog was "what are the top ten retrospectives." This would always be subjective so I decided to add some context to the proceedings.

  1. For new teams: anything that gives the team roots or helps them to connect. This could be values, roles and responsibilities, the development stages of a team, or agile/team principles. If you are after an icebreaker then two truths, one lie is fun.
  2. For early retrospectives: keep it simple and there is none simpler, or well-known than start/stop/continue.
  3. For experienced teams: shake things up with new formats like the 4 L's (Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed For) or invite a guest to stimulate fresh ideas and insights.
  4. For large groups: my ask here would be just make it easy on yourself. Divide and conquer so that you have smaller groups with a designated speaker to report back to the main group. Or share a document, seek input, give the room the time to read through the suggestions, and add votes so that you prioritise the items with the most votes.
  5. For the urgent retrospective: hunt down that one open and powerful question to get to the heart of the matter. That could be "What is most important for us, right now?" and let the team talk.
  6. For the team who has stopped having retrospectives: ask the team to reflect on what they may be missing out on by not having these moments as a team. Gauge the temperature in the room and respect the team’s decision.
  7. For a team in crisis: the most important thing is to get the team together and ideally in person. Set the tone and have an open and honest discussion. Maybe the sailboat retrospective with all the options in play (sailboat, sail, motor, anchor, rocks, sharks, weather, etc) and let it rip.
  8. For visionaries: What about a prospective (that's not a typo) so that you are looking ahead to where you want to be as a team in 30 / 60 / 90 days' time.
  9. For fun: get your creative retrospective hat on and come up with something new, different, and innovative. We’ve had Lego build retrospectives describing the last sprint through the medium of Lego and the health check retrospective replicating a trip to the doctors to give an assessment on your team’s health.

I count ten retrospectives scattered in there with some creative license. These are just some of the different ways you help your teams to engage or re-engage with retrospectives.

Closing thoughts on retrospectives

Retrospectives are feedback opportunities for the team. Feedback should be FAST:

Frequent, Accurate, Specific, Timely

Feedback is best in the moment. Regular feedback beats sporadic or no feedback. Retrospectives where insight is gathered or actions identified but not acted on are wasteful. The right retrospective, at the right time with the right people, can help the team to reconnect, recharge, regroup, or reset.

I have a fondness for retrospectives and think they should be encouraged. Perhaps more than any other event, they can help with a team's identity and growth. Moreover, they can help to drive meaningful change in and also beyond the team.

I have seen first-hand how a bit of planning and creativity upfront can have an energising effect on the team so think BIG and be prepared to mix it up. I think it's time for us all to get our retrospective mojo back and get your retro groove on.

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