How to Run a Killer Project Retrospective - Docket

How to Run a Killer Project Retrospective

This post is part of our series on The 5 Types of Work Meetings.

When it comes to the world of project management, it is essential to make sure that everyone takes the time to reflect on the project and see what was done well and what can be improved. When teams take the time to think about some of their previous projects, they place themselves in a position to learn from what went well and what could have improved. One common meeting to facilitate this process is a project retrospective.

What Is a Project Retrospective?

A project retrospective is a process where the team reflects on the project and looks for ways to become more effective as a team. The Agile Manifesto states, “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” Ultimately, the goal is to get the team to find a way to work better. 

Regardless of whether a project was finished or closed early, it has become a best practice for teams to take the time to carry out various project retrospectives throughout the project instead of just at the end. This allows the team to improve its ability to work together continuously. 

Conduct a Retrospective

When conducting a project retrospective, remember that the goal is to figure out the key lessons learned from a project during the project retrospective and apply them to future processes. Keep in mind all team members should show up for the project retrospective. For the team to work well together, everyone should be invited to share their thoughts and opinions. There are three questions that everyone should be prepared to answer:

  1. What went well? 
  2. What didn’t go well? 
  3. What can we improve next time?

These simple questions create opportunities for meaningful introspection and can allow teams to iterate and improve quickly. When the whole team is in this process together, the results are going to be better.

Project Retrospective Ideas

There are several ways that everyone can make their project retrospective meetings more effective. Some of the key points to keep in mind include:

  • Meeting Notes: take a look at the notes from the project meetings that might have taken place. Ideally, the team has had several meetings during its time together, and someone took notes. Take a look at the records and look for common themes. (Project meeting software solutions like Docket can help with this!)
  • Using a Survey: It is also helpful to use something called a project retrospective survey. Instead of using the time during the meeting to collect ideas, send out a review survey beforehand. This survey can be used to collect everyone’s thoughts and ideas prior to the meeting, especially for those team members who may prefer to do their thinking in writing and not on the spot. Then, when the team comes together, they will be ready to start discussions on them or expansions/extensions on those ideas.
  • Share the Meeting notes: Finally, it is also good to share any meeting notes with the project retrospective with the company’s leadership. This is important for maintaining transparency. Furthermore, if the company knows the team is working hard to improve, they are more likely to let the process play out.

Run an Effective Retrospective

It is vital for everyone who works as a team member to take steps to improve how teams work together. A project retrospective can help everyone do exactly that. By taking the time to review these ideas, everyone will have their voice heard.

About the Author

Charlie Holcomb

Charlie Holcomb

As Marketing Manager at Docket, Charlie is on a mission to show leaders everywhere how to make meetings awesome. After hours, you can find Charlie enjoying pub trivia, local music, and rugby.
Docket was named the 2020 Zoom™ App Marketplace ‘Whale Watch’ Competition Winner.Learn more
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