In every software team I’ve worked in, we’ve had Retrospective. No matter your engineering process, it does make sense to have regular time allotted for reflection . It is however no trivial task to reflect, nor set up optimal settings or utilize the output. In my experience, retrospectives have at times felt more like obligatory tasks than truly enriching exercises. However, no one wants to be the one to argue for less introspection - so what do?
When I've had the opportunity to lead retrospectives, I've made it a point to experiment with different formats and seek advice from others. There are countless resources available offering alternative techniques and fresh perspectives on how to revitalize retrospectives. Yet, even with these efforts, the core challenge remained: how to move beyond surface-level discussions and transient resolutions to enact meaningful change.
While occasional successes were celebrated, many retrospectives fell into a predictable pattern of discussing what went well, what didn't, and what could be improved (the things surrounding the project, be it process, tools, or persons) —an exercise that often led to short-lived commitments and little tangible progress. When the action items weren’t met or didn’t always have the intended output one can be left with a feeling of hopelessness.