Before talking about the two types of retrospectives that I would mention, we need to understand what retrospectives are. We are going based on the definition of Scrum Org.
“The retrospective is a space to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness. The team identifies the most helpful changes to improve its effectiveness. The most impactful improvements are addressed as soon as possible”.
Value of making Retrospectives
The main value that we can get from doing retrospectives are inspecting the team and adapting to get better results iteration by iteration. We not only focus on value delivery, we can also include relations , interactions and metrics.
This event is specifically designed to enable the transparency required in the team, but it is important that transparency is not the same as finger pointing.
I’m going to define the classic retrospective as the one that just focuses on what went well during the Sprint, what problems it encountered, and how those problems were (or were not) solved. This is normally created in one column to focus on each one of these topics and another column to add the action items.
The advantage of doing this type of retrospective is that we go straight to the point, we focus on what we need to keep doing and on the things that we need to change. Normally, with this, time gets more efficient, but remember that we are not looking for efficiency in time. That’s why we have time boxes.
A big issue with this type is that as we do it, repeatedly, this can get bored the teams and transfor this meeting into silence or even worst into places where people are force to talk and give feedback, both scenarion will affect our inspection capacity.
A classic retrospective example would look like this:
Defining crazy retrospectives is a little bit difficult because, actually, this type of dynamic represents the creativity of the facilitator to help the team understand new ways of getting better. This type of dynamic not only helps the teams find what went well in the last iteration, this also helps the team to improve the confidence in the team and will make the communication between members easier.
A huge issue about this is that we can lose focus and, instead of looking at new things to improve, we can get lost in the dynamics of having fun, and even in the worst case, the facilitator could guide the team to tackle selected problems. This can be conscious or not.
A crazy retro would look like this:
I personally prefer Crazy Retros, because making a meeting more enjoyable always brings better results. Creating a place of psychological safety with the team is invaluable. I even prefer to do the retrospectives in a bar drinking some beer.
But I really think that the important part here is to read the team and the moments. Maybe if we have a chaotic iteration full of conflicts and failed goals, we should not have a hello kitty retrospective. Always use your criteria to decide the best approach for each squad.
Always remember to inspect fast and adapt even faster!