If you’ve been a part of any team that uses agile principles, then you’ve probably sat through a good number of project retrospective meetings. How you feel about them depends entirely upon the strategies that were used to run the meeting, what the focus of the meeting was, and whether or not your overall experience within that team was a positive one.

Agile methods have quickly become the strategy of choice for startups around the world. A 2017 report from PMI stated that 71% of organizations reported that they used at least some agile approaches. The growth in agile strategies is due to its effectiveness. A study from PwC found that agile projects are successful 28% more often than traditional projects.

Effective retrospectives are vital to the health of any agile team. They can help teams to pinpoint beneficial changes that can be made to the management of future projects, help identify process improvements that will make everyone more productive, and identify individual areas for improvement that will help the entire team to be more collaborative.

Bad retrospectives can sabotage your success. They can kill the goodwill that the team built with each other throughout the life of the project. They fail to identify the key areas for improvement. In bad retrospectives, the focus is on the negative and the team leaves with no further direction.

It’s important that you put time and thought into developing plans and following best practices in retrospective meetings. In doing so, you’ll notice a few benefits that can help you to improve future projects and increase your chances of success:

Create Transparency

Transparency is important in teams. It helps your team members to feel at ease and feel like they know the direction that their team and the company at large are heading in. Retrospectives give your teams more insight into the entire life of the project and allows them to bring up details that they think will be helpful. Retrospectives are perfect for ironing out complaints and developing plans to avoid issues raised moving forward.

Retrospectives give your team the ability to discuss issues they had throughout the project and share stories. It should be seen as a safe space, where opinions can be expressed with respect and they will be answered with respect. Facilitating that kind of feedback helps you to better cater future projects to individual needs while better understanding of previous failures.

Facilitate Collaboration and Communication

In agile project management, the product owner isn’t the only person who gets to decide how things are going to be run. They aren’t involved in the daily processes. Only taking their feedback into consideration would be a huge mistake and would spell doom for any project. Effective retrospectives help to create transparency and allow for a collaborative environment.

In a recent survey, 39% of employees said that they believe the people within their organization do not communicate enough. This is a sentiment that is felt by many but is a symptom of a larger problem. By creating a more collaborative group environment during retrospectives, you give your employees a simple way to collaborate once they can look back on a project and see it clearly.

A collaborative environment will lead to a healthier, happier workforce. They will feel like their own contributions are appreciated by those around them. They will enjoy the new relationships that the collaboration fosters. Great retrospective meetings are at their best when they are bringing your team together and giving each individual a voice.  

Identify Issues

Perhaps the biggest benefit (and perhaps the most important point) of retrospective meetings is to help your team to identify issues that they ran into throughout the project. An effective retrospective meeting can actually reframe a project and help your team to see it in a different light.

During retrospective meetings, it is important that your employees feel free to speak on issues that they encountered during the project. These could include complaints about the way that a project was managed, process issues that they felt hampered them, or even complaints about other individuals on the team. By creating an environment where complaints are heard and people are receptive to new and respectful ideas, you can really position yourself to make improvements to your process over time.

Using retrospectives to identify issues from your project allow you to make incremental changes to your processes over time that lead to better, more successful project outcomes.

Identify Process Improvements

Most companies don’t spend enough time reviewing their individual tasks and projects. Did you know that only 4% of companies measure and manage their documented processes?

This is a huge issue and one that seriously drains on a company’s productivity over time. During retrospective meetings, your team has the ability to identify process issues, propose solutions, and find opportunities to find mutual ground for improvement with other members of the team. Over time, each spring will become more effective due to the process issue identification process.

Listen and Learn

Retrospective meetings put companies in a unique position to listen and learn from their teams while improving the company as a whole. Instituting agile practices and retrospective meetings for all projects throughout a company will allow each and every team to experience these benefits.

Here at Organimi, we believe that agile project management is the most effective choice for growing companies that need to not only be effective, but institute an environment where employees feel listened to, valued, and confident.