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Making Time for Retrospectives

Tips for making retros a priority and ways to make them more efficient

We get it. You are busy. Your team is busy. Everybody is running from one agenda item to the next and teams sometimes feel as if a retrospective can just be skipped to save time. And even if the Scrum Master or Product Owner knows in her heart that isn’t true, it’s an easy excuse to fall back on when time gets short. So how can you ensure that you complete an effective retro every time? 

Educate people in your company about the importance of retrospectives

If everyone from the leadership team to the individual contributors understands why retrospective meetings are valuable, they will be less likely to see them as an “extra” thing to do, less likely to cancel them or schedule over them, and more likely to provide the time needed to conduct them well. 

Communicate with your team ahead of the retrospective

If you let team members know what they need to be thinking about before the retro, this will allow everyone to prepare their thoughts ahead of time and save time during the actual retrospective. Provide the topic(s) a day or two in advance. 

Run part of the retro asynchronously

Running part of a retrospective asynchronously can help make the synchronous portion of the retro more efficient. The facilitator can set up the retro using the chosen template, then send invitations to  team members asking them to add their notes by a given date.  Once notes have been added, the facilitator can group the notes on their own. On the day of the actual retro, start at the voting phase to prioritize the discussion topics together and proceed with the discussion phase. 

Time box each phase of the retro using the timer feature

Using the timer will help keep people on task and effectively communicate  the timing expectation for each phase of the retro.  As the timer runs down people will naturally speed up their work, allowing you to progress to the next phase in a timely manner.  Deciding how long to give each phase will take some practice and will depend on the topic(s) being discussed, the length of time since the last retro, and team members’ energy around the subject. Check in with people (a simple thumbs up /thumbs down works best) to see if they need more time or want to move on.

📌 Have more questions?  Click here to schedule a Quick Connect session with one of our Retro Experts!