2015 New Year's Retrospective

Stale retrospectives? Has your team stalled in group think mode? Do they say, 'Yeah, same stuff went well/sucked as last time'? Maybe it's time for RetroFresh!  :)

Seriously, freshen up your retrospectives, and use the new year to help! Many of us reflect and set new goals this time of year anyway, so harness that tendency to frame your next retrospective to your team's advantage. I tried this yesterday, and a team that had been stuck in the creative rut for the past two sprints livened up and came up with all sorts of ideas to improve. It started with one simple question: What kind of team do you want to be in 2015?  

Here are some twists for using the new year "resolution mode" in your retrospectives:  

  • Ask the team how they felt they performed as a team in 2014. And then ask them what kind of team they want to be in 2015. Ask them to consider behaviors and norms that they might implement in order to become that better team. And then sit back and see what they have to say.  It’s sort of New Year’s resolution-y but it asks the team members to consider the bigger picture and to envision what success might look like in the future. For the team. Very powerful. These goals may drive themes in the product backlog; be sure to include your product owner in this discussion!
  • Draw a timeline for 2014 on the whiteboard.  Ask the team to plot its happiness and sadness during the year (see image below). Discuss the ‘highs’ and the ‘lows’. Ask the team to come up with ways to make 2015 a year of more ‘highs’ and less "lows". Adapted from Esther Derby's emotions seismograph. 
Emotions seismograph from a retrospective. Your timeline could span the previous year to facilitate a New Year's Retrospective.

Emotions seismograph from a retrospective. Your timeline could span the previous year to facilitate a New Year's Retrospective.

  • You could ask the team to write a short article for Wired Magazine January 2016 that recaps the team's success in 2015.  While writing this article, the team should consider major events, changes in behaviors, norms, tools, environment, etc. After that envisioning exercise, you could ask them what they’d like to take away and turn into a reality. (adapted from Luke Hohmann's "remember the future"). 

Gentle reminder: As a facilitator, you are there to guide the team toward its own resolutions. Pun intended! Happy New Year!  Shake it up!