If you run retrospectives and don’t find them valuable, then read on…
Any organisation that has existing for more than a few years will have run a number of projects and (hopefully) retrospectives/post implementation reviews. The effectiveness of these activities tend to flatline after a while. How can you measure their usefulness? How can you get more value from them?
Ask yourself the following:
- Are retrospectives normally conducted? Or are they reserved for projects that fail badly?
- Is the purpose of each retrospective known? Or are they perceived very differently between stakeholders?
- What result do they bring about? Is this in line with the established purpose(s)?
- Do the same issues get raised again and again?
- Are most of the suggestions from one person? Do the suggestions come from everyone or just management?
- Are the issues and hence positive and negative issues addressed in actions? Who follows them up? Or are the reports shelved?
- Are the sessions a talk fest? or do they focus on specific, relevant issues?
- Do participants come prepared with examples and data? or do they simply offer opinions?
- Do the sessions suffer from presenteeism?
- Can you list 5 improvements undertaken in the last 3 months that originated in retrospectives/PIRs?
Why are these questions important? Because retrospectives/PIRs are one of the major sources of improvements an organization has. If they aren’t effective, you are likely missing out on significant improvements to your bottom line.
You can’t improve everything at once across a company, so prioritize a project improvement mechanism – the retrospective.