3 Pillars of a Retrospective

In my previous blog post, I made an appeal to treat retrospectives as sacrosanct and not to skip them.
Here I will discuss the 3 Pillars of Retrospectives i.e. the critical success factors without which retrospectives will not be effective and beneficial.
The three pillars are:
1) Safe Environment
2) Effective Facilitation
3) Follow-up
Safe environment
A safe environment is an atmosphere of mutual trust between the management and the project staff.
The participants of the retrospective should feel secure enough to openly discuss the work they did in the project; admit their mistakes; frankly air their  views; point out the areas of improvement in the system, without fearing adverse impact on their performance appraisal, compensation and other benefits.
Only then true and clear picture of the project will emerge.
If the environment is not safe the participants will play safe by not coming out with their views in open.
This will result in a false sense of well-being prevailing in the team.
This is not good for the project or organization success in the longer run.
Effective Facilitation
Retrospectives are highly people interaction oriented affairs.
Hence they require an efficient facilitator to manage them.
Without effective facilitation discussions in a retrospective will not be focused; may turn out to be a complaint airing session; may become a blame game and sometimes even turn hostile.
All these factors will result in a dysfunctional team.
Though retrospective literally mean looking back, a good retrospective session also results in action items for improvement after the team have discussed their lessons learned.
I have come across many teams who have stopped doing retrospectives despite having a safe environment and effective facilitators.
Why ?
Because no one acted upon the suggestions that were made during the retrospectives.

In my forthcoming posts I will be discussing how to erect these three pillars in software projects to have safe and effective retrospectives.

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