There are many styles, but some typical questions are:
- What is going well?
- What could have gone better?
- What have we learned?
- What still puzzles us?
Being in the same room with people during retrospectives is very powerful because of the high-bandwidth communication that we have. When we go remote, we want to simulate that co-location as much as possible. But instead of simulating the office, what we really want is to simulate the “human-ness”.
1. Designate an organizer
The organizer is in charge of making sure that retrospectives get scheduled at regular intervals (it shouldn’t just happen when things go wrong!). The organizer also ensures that everyone has the meeting information and the materials needed to attend and contribute. They are also in charge of making sure the action items are documented and followed-up.
Meetings quickly become frustrating when the quality of the sound or video is bad. Make sure you have a fast and stable internet connection. If you’re in an office, use conference room equipment specifically designed for remote attendees.
3. Minimize background noise
Get yourself into an environment that is conducive to high-bandwidth communication. If you’re at home and have pets, or children, make sure that their noise is not a distraction. The chirping bird is cute at first, but quickly becomes an annoying distraction. Invest in a noise canceling headset.
4. Embrace video
Because the non-verbal communication is what’s important in co-located retrospectives, try using video for your remote meetings. Video helps create a more engaging atmosphere. In addition, use tools that allow you to see others’ videos while screen sharing.
5. Continuously make sure everyone gets a chance to speak
Start every remote meeting with a quick opening question so that everyone gets the chance to speak. This makes it easier for people to speak up during the conversation. If you notice people becoming unengaged or quiet, quickly “go around the room” and ask everyone to chime in.
6. Experiment with new tools
There are a lot of great tools for conducting remote retrospectives: Linoit, Ideaboardz, GroupMap… the list goes on and on (if you need advice, just reply to this email and ask). Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes a new tool can shake things up a bit.
- Mark Kilby (an Agile coach) has put together an informal list of tools.
- Luis Gonçalves (another Agile coach) also put together a list.
- Retrium is brand new software being developed for remote retrospectives.
7. Don’t go too long
When we’re physically sitting with a group of people, we can talk together for hours without a break. This is not the case with virtual meetings. Focusing intently on the screen can cause virtual fatigue. If your meeting needs more time, take a break and encourage your attendees to step away from the computer for a few minutes.
Want to learn more? Sign up for one of my workshops (offered online or in person).
Listen to Pilar Orti and me discuss retrospectives on the 21st Century Work Life Podcast
Watch the remote retrospectives webinar with me and Luis Gonçalves – and take his FREE Agile Retrospectives 10 Days Program