After weeks or even months of a Herculean effort to ship a big project, you and your team have thoughts. You’ve come to the right place. The retrospective template is where you can detail what went awesomely and what areas could have gone better. Use it to surface constructive criticism for a large, cross-team effort or even for a year in review. No matter the project, this template can help guide the conversation and provide a visible way for your team to take action and improve.
How to use the retrospective template
Step 1. Schedule the meeting
Before you can have a project review, you have to schedule it, inviting the right people to offer feedback. Ideally, this meeting lasts about half an hour and includes 4 to 8 people who have a vested interest in process improvement. Any less and you won’t gather enough insight; any more makes it hard for everyone to participate in the discussion fully. Note the date and those in attendance at the start of the meeting in the space provided in the template.
Step 2. Set the tone
Before the start of the meeting, consider and fill out the Background section to let everyone know why you’re getting together. It could be an overview of the product you just released, with features, specs and teams involved, or details about the most recent office move. Briefly highlight this section when you kick off the discussion.
Step 3. Set the tone – and the timer
Take 5 minutes to let everyone know that all opinions and suggestions are welcome. This will help to create an honest, open forum that will produce useful feedback. Take a look at the playbook for more ideas on how to set the right tone.
Each section of the retrospective template is time-based – and that’s for good reason. You want to give people enough room to give their thoughts, but not so much that you all find yourselves in a rabbit hole. The ideal product is a full discussion but not one with many tangents or centered on issues that your team cannot solve for – not in 30 minutes anyway.
Step 4: Run the exercises
Timer set for 10 minutes? Great. Now begin by asking everyone what the team should start doing. Have them add their thoughts right into the retrospective doc, which, thanks to Confluence, allows each person to create and edit content at the same time.
Don’t forget to leave some time to discuss these ideas before the timer goes off! As the facilitator, hold back on participating in the chat. It’s your job to look at and listen to the inputs, recognize common themes, and group similar pieces of feedback together. This will help you narrow down your best bets for process improvement and highlight what actions the team should take next.
Run the next couple of sections the same way. Set a timer for 10 minutes and ask the group to jot down what the team should stop doing and keep doing.
Step 5. What’s next?
Take 5 minutes at the end to hash out the next steps. It’ll feel like it’s going by too fast, but trust us, you’ll come away with plenty of insights to work with.
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