Retrospectives (also called Postmortems and Project Histories) can play an important role in improving predictability and speed in delivery. At TCGen we have performed hundreds for clients and have written about the process and how to avoid common problems. Here is a list of the top reasons to conduct retrospectives:
- They pinpoint and uncover systemic problems in delivery that span many programs. The preponderance of evidence across many Retrospectives can compel management to make changes.
- They also identify specific problems in a given project, so that the team does not carry them to the next project. It is a way of formalizing improvement.
- They offer an opportunity for the team to isolate problems and get them ‘out of their system.’ Good Retrospectives are not sessions to vent and complain per se, but the process is often healthy.
- If the results are documented and shared, they provide a foundation for further analysis and remediation.
- If done with partners, they provide a platform of improvement shared by all parties in subsequent projects. See the process we developed with Apple.
Ultimately, it boils down to preventing the classic problem: repeating mistakes!