I’m doing some research on how to run productive sprint retrospectives.
Mountain Goat Software has a good structure that breaks down into how to encourage good habits:
Start: What needs to be added to the team’s habits
Stop: What needs to be changed or removeed
Continue: What working but needs to continue in order to become a habit.
Once something becomes adopted as a habit, it drops off the list. Otherwise the list would grow.
The key is, keep it short, keep feelings out of it. I also like that in each sprint retrospective, there is a sheet of paper with last week’s retrospective points so the team can see them. They don’t need to be discussed but having them as a reference is helpful/
I’ve had other weekly retrospectives that were like this:
Each person takes a turn listing:
Round One: 3 things that worked
Round Two: 3 things that could be improved upon
Round Three: Any blockages
The meeting ends with a quick list of what’s happening the following week, plus a shout out to someone or something exceptional that happened that week.
This style works well on teams with new employees because it forces everyone to become part of the discussion from their very first week. I like tat the feedback is given in rounds instead of having the first person go through the pluses and minuses before moving on. It allows for time to think about your own list and modify it.
Most importantly, I think, is to get the retrospective done fast, record what’s been discussed, and move on. We’re smart humans, a quick check in is usually enough to plant a seed for future improvements, or when necessary, a follow up conversation off-line.