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Retrospective – The Meeting You Should NEVER Skip If You Are Serious About SuccessGeorge
I know I know… You hate meetings. You despise them. They are awful. They are a time waster – a time you could have used for doing actual work (whatever your definition of work is – coding, designing, writing emails).
What if I tell you that there is a meeting that you will find both productive and very satisfying while being largely important for your team? As magical as it sounds there is such a meeting and it’s called – Retrospective.
What is it?
The retrospective is a meeting that has one goal – assessing the current team performance and finding ways to improve it.
In this meeting, all team members look back at the recent work of the team. Then all of them answer the following questions about the current work process:
- What went well and we should continue doing?
- Are there things that didn’t go well?
- What problems and pains did we face?
After answering these questions the team comes up with action items in order to improve their work process and fight the pains.
Ten reasons why the retrospective is so important
You now understand what the retrospective meeting is, but you are probably wondering what makes it so hugely important that it should never be skipped. Here are 10 reasons why:
The team gets a dedicated time to rewind and reflect
This is the top reason for this meeting to be as important as it is. The team members are normally so caught up in getting things done that they rarely stop and look at the bigger picture. This causes the teams to keep being stuck with bad processes and makes team members increasingly dissatisfied.
Looking at the bigger picture and assessing what hurts and what feels good is essential if you want to improve as a team.
Every team member gets opportunity to express his/her own pains and troubles
Being able to confide in your teammates is one of the most pressure releasing activities a team can perform. By doing so you ensure that the teammates can bring their full self to work. Therefore they start feeling as individuals in a team rather than a small part of a group of individuals.
Every team member gets to express his/her ideas for improvement
In addition to the previous point, all team members get to express their ideas for improving their own performance and the teams performance. This grows the appreciation between the teammates greatly. The suggestions can be as big as adopting a new state-of-the-art task management software or smaller like proposing a new metric to be measured and improved.
It promotes psychological safety
Psychological safety is the trait that Google has found to be the most important in order for your team to be great. The retrospective is one of the most potent ways to create psychological safety for your team.
New perspectives bring new solutions
Sharing your pains and troubles with all of your teammates, instead of just your close ones has another amazing side effect – you get a new perspective and new solution. It’s amazing how frequently someone unrelated to your problem will come up with a solution – drawing from her/his own experience.
It promotes sympathy throughout the team
Another valuable side effect of sharing is that the team members tend to become more sympathetic to each other. This is especially helpful when the inevitable tough times arrive.
It showcases how every individual performance impacts the team performance
The retrospective meeting is the ultimate showcase ground. It’s the meeting where individual performance impact becomes quite visible and obvious.
It helps all teammates to develop problem-solving skills
The last part of the retrospective is the most challenging one. It requires for the team members to do a root cause analysis, preferably using the 5 whys, and then come up with a new solution to the problem. This exercise helps all team members to hone their problem-solving skills and improve their overall game.
It helps with adopting new practices
The final output of this meeting is actually adopting new and improved processes and practices. This does not mean changing drastically everything you do after every meeting. It means making steps towards perfection – something like trying a new prioritization technique or setting a limit to your work-in-progress.
Retrospective drives Kaizen
Last but not least, this meeting is the embodiment of Kaizen – the Japanese art of constantly getting better. It helps you to adhere to all of the guiding principles:
- Good processes bring good results
- Genchi Genbutsu – See it for yourself
- You cannot improve something you don’t measure
- Treat the disease not the symptom
- Work as a team
- Kaizen is not a position, it’s everyone’s job
I will let the wise one tell you the truth.