The Power of Reflection

Using Retrospectives to reflect and adapt

In this blog article, we explore the power of reflection for teams conducting Retrospectives and how they use their findings to improve internal processes.

Reflection

Reflection is a powerful action. It provides us with an opportunity to take time to think about the work we have completed and learn from those experiences. 
Reflection is a muscle, the more we practice, the better we become at it. Reflecting regularly empowers us to improve.
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Why the Retrospective?

Retrospectives are fundamental to practicing and mastering the action of reflection. Rather than doing a lessons-learned assessment at the end of a project, the team pauses after every Sprint to do the Retrospective.

What

Retrospectives are a time-boxed event that is only open for your team to attend. It is an opportunity to internally reflect, air grievances in a safe environment without fearing the judgement of others. To do this, complete trust needs to be honoured and continuous improvement must be at the forefront of everyone's minds.

Why

The reason retrospectives are so powerful is you're continuously adapting and growing. When working as a team, you want to deliver quicker than before — all the while improving quality in every Sprint. 
Sprints are lightweight and effective. The Retrospective — like all the other agile ceremonies— aims to make it easy to see real results.

Using the Retrospective Ceremony to reflect, adapt and improve

Retrospectives enable your team to address the challenges that often confront them. Unlike daily scrums where you meet to make a plan for the next 24 hour period for the work required. Retrospectives enable us to plan and better improve the process —not the actual work. Additionally, every time you celebrate overcoming an obstacle, you're building the team's confidence that they can accomplish anything.

Every Sprint, the team holds a Retrospective to look at themselves and seek ways to improve. Yes, it can be an assessment of team's shortcomings. However, you must celebrate the successes along with the failings.
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash
If you only recognise what needs to be improved, you lose sight of what you're already doing well.

We all want to get better at what we're doing. So, when we celebrate our improvements, we gain confidence and we're acknowledging that we've mastered something. It feeds our desire for continued learning and growth. It reminds us that we can master anything, in fact, we already are!
Keep focus on your goal to be a high performing team, one trait consistent in successful teams is being able to exhibit high levels of trust within them. To help harvest this, you need to celebrate accomplishments no matter how small they are! 

Characteristics of the Retrospective

The following list provides some tips of that you need to consider when conducting a Retrospective.
  • Feedback is a chance to inspect and adapt in an open environment.
  • Assess how work was accomplished is key to success.
  • Use your findings as can help make progress in small incremental steps.
  • Navigate and overcome potential challenges together as a team.
  • Follow up actions from previous Sprint.
  • Whenever possible use an impartial facilitator; this will also enable the Scrum Master and Product Owner to participate.
  • What team did well, issues and ideas on how we can improve must be captured and managed.
Use what you have captured to improve going forward. Look at taking at least one or two improvements into the next sprint. You could do this by adding it to the product backlog.

What Next?

  • Think about rolling out retrospectives in other parts of your business. 
  • Think about conducting a project retrospective and include stakeholders. 
Once you get into the hang of it, you will become unstoppable.

Of Note

If you are interested in other top notch agile blogs from across the net' check out Agile top 50 in Feedspot. Some of my heroes are listed there, a highly recommended resource.

Thanks a lot.

Until next time, keep it agile!