- That feeling when you get to the end of the week and you don’t know how to talk about it
- That feeling when you are done with a project and want to talk about it but you’re afraid to share your feelings
- That feeling when tensions are high on your team and you don’t know how to squash it
- That feeling when you feel like you’ve tried everything only to pass it off to someone else to see to completion
- That feeling when you had to end a contract early because it wasn’t working out
- That feeling when a client calls a meeting with you last-minute to discuss progress (or lack thereof)
- That feeling when you finish a project and think it rocked but no one else ever said anything to validate your feelings
These are all examples of things you can surface by regularly holding Retrospective meetings with your team. All teams that work together should have regularly planned meetings to reflect on the work they’re doing—even if you’ve never heard of Agile work, even if your work is by the calendar and not Sprints, and even if Scrum is something you think you need to clean from the bottom of your shower.
How 1909 DIGITAL Facilitates Retrospectives
Team 1909 tries to hold tight to our Retro time. While we would ideally do this every week since we work in week-long Sprints, we’ve found that our small team’s capacity isn’t conducive to holding this type of meeting so often. We value our bi-weekly retrospective time when we can hold space to talk through the things that matter.
We typically hold retrospective meetings every other week after our weekly Sprint Close meeting. In the Sprint Close meeting we cross items off our client Task Lists and talk through our capacity per person and client. We break down our thoughts on the week we just had, a project that recently ended, a process we want to refine, a client interaction we wish could have gone better, and more.
We also hold a retrospective at our monthly (mostly) in-person meetings. These meetings tend to be a look back at either the month as a whole or as a deeper dive into a retrospective we have recently had in our bi-weekly retro time that we needed to discuss further.
Simple Retrospective Templates to Try for Your Team
If you’re struggling to find ways to talk about things as a team, here are a few retrospective ideas Brittney, our Chief Marketing Officer and typical retro leader, has utilized for different things we needed to reflect through as a team.
When Things Are Moving Along Normally
A KWL (or Know, Wonder, Learned) chart can be a simple retro that doesn’t need a lot of preparation. You can reflect on a time frame, project, client, process, or just about anything else. We also like a Mad/Sad/Glad retro for these times.
When Tensions are High & Communication is Lacking
We all get to those points where the team is having a hard time. Let’s face it–it usually comes down to a lack of communication. The 4L’s (Loved, Loathed, Longed for, Learned) retrospective is a classic tool to get the team back in alignment and on the same page.
When You Need to Solidify a Process
This is another good one to utilize when things are getting hairy or when you want to analyze a specific process. Talk about what went well and what didn’t. Figure out what you can do to impact your process next time and make it easy on everyone.
When You Have a New Team Member
Everyone can get caught up in their own days, so it’s especially important to make sure to hold retrospective meetings that focus on new team members and their experience early and often. The classic 4L’s retro is also a good one to introduce a new team member to retrospectives since it’s clearly defined and easy to facilitate.
When You Have a Project That Stresses You Out
This type of retrospective is great for reflection, but can facilitate conversation surrounding improvements and next steps.
When You’re Reflecting on the Year
Cheers for new years! In this fun but simple retro, your team can toast accomplishments, say goodbye to things they didn’t like throughout the year, and make some resolutions for the year ahead. This is truly just a KWL with different names, which always adds some customization and fun.
Ideas to Customize Your Retros
- Feature a fun background and tweak the language to fit that fandom
- We’ve done this with The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise–our team skews toward the reality-TV-obsessed side
- Go with a seasonal or holiday theme
- Try to add in some more “popular” language or trends or memes
- Focus your retro around an Internet sensation to bring in a sense of relevance and a hint of cringe to get the team involved
- Try a sports theme with your hometown team the week of an important game
- Taylor Swift – everyone is impacted by Taylor, so you can rename your titles to Taylor songs and have your team Speak Now when it comes to that Sprint’s retro
We hope these help your team introduce great retrospectives for whatever you’re going through. We love the idea of customization, and take a lot of liberties with making it much more fun and adding an element of surprise to these retros when you unveil them to your team.