4 Reasons retrospectives are an excellent way to improve your org

4 Reasons retrospectives are an excellent way to improve your org

If you're new to retrospectives or are considering how a retrospective might benefit your organization, here are four reasons they can be an excellent way to improve your organization.

Blake Kohler
Blake Kohler
Co-Founder / CEO
4 Reasons retrospectives are an excellent way to improve your org

When working in software development, it is almost impossible to escape a retrospective concept---popularized by advocates of the agile software development process such as Scrum.

The iterative process of developing products and programs has been, possibly rightfully, glorified in the tech unicorn's rise over the last ten years. Building what is often called an MVP or minimum viable product has become the norm. While iterating on a product helps improve it, what might be lost is how retrospectives have helped teams integrate on themselves. Slowly improving teams and techniques until they function as well as the products they are building.

If you're new to retrospectives or are considering how a retrospective might benefit your organization, here are four reasons they can be an excellent way to improve your organization.

Retrospectives provide a safe way to discuss challenging topics

The process of talking about what is going well and what needs to improve will naturally bring issues to light that might be a bit challenging to discuss. One of the keys is making sure that your retro is a positive event.

Norm Kerth, the author of Project Retrospectives, has coined a phrase he calls the Prime Directive to assure that a retrospective has the right culture to make it a positive and result oriented event.

By talking about the prime directive as you begin each retrospective, you can put your team in a place where they feel comfortable to discuss hard topics together. The more often you repeat this process, the easier the issues become to discuss.

Retrospectives help you celebrate wins

While discussing challenging topics and things that didn't get a lot of attention during a retrospective, one of the most valuable portions discusses what has gone right.

This discussion allows you to reallocate time and resources to do more of what is working for you and provides the team and various teammates to take a victory lap amongst their peers.

This opportunity to celebrate team wins on a consistent cadence helps individuals feel appreciated for their efforts and highlights the silver linings that come from the inevitable challenges and failures in a team setting.

Retrospectives build trust

Discussing things that are going well and things that could improve honestly and openly can be incredibly humbling. As you go through the process of pointing out something that hasn't been ideal without fear of retribution for those issues, you build a culture of getting things right instead of focusing on being right.

When your team members can see individuals discussing things they've got wrong without fear that they will be looked down on or punished, they are more likely to point out things they've struggled with and ask for the requisite help improving in that area.

This trust won't just affect your retrospectives but will spill out into your everyday activities. Trust becomes the natural lubrication for the everyday frictions that can bog a team down.

Retrospectives cause introspection

The entire process of retrospectives inevitably leads to individuals thinking about their performance. "Did I push my team forward, or have I been holding them back?" is often asked by each person inside a retrospective.

Providing a place for a team to talk about improving it triggers individuals to consider the same thing. The simple act of asking groups to conduct retrospectives can help enhance each member's productivity and satisfaction.

That is one of the secrets of retrospectives. Their iterative process improves teams but mainly by enhancing the people inside the teams.

Four great benefits one simple meeting

Retrospectives have a lot of benefits, including the ones we've addressed today. They are a simple, cost-effective way to provide organic growth for your teams and individuals. They may indeed be the most valuable lesson to learn from the unicorns of the world - It's excellent to iterate on processes, policies, and products. Still, the real secret might be to help your teammates iterate on themselves.