Once a sprint concludes, it’s time to run a sprint retrospective. These are meetings that run for 30 minutes to an hour where the team reviews what went well and where things could have been done better. They offer teams an opportunity to review performance, suggest improvements, and implement those suggestions the next time a sprint or similar project is executed.
Running these meetings doesn’t have to be complicated. However, it’s important that they be run effectively and consistently so evaluating performance becomes a habit. This way the team will stay focused on continuous improvement, rather than making evaluating performance a “sometimes” sort of thing that satisfies a line item on a to-do list but doesn’t support delivering better results.
In this chapter, you’ll learn what makes retros so important for successful agile marketing teams. Plus, you’ll see exactly how to schedule and run them, with examples you can follow.
As previously stated, they are meetings held at the end of a sprint to review three things:
The CoSchedule team has found this meeting format works well both at the end of a specific sprint, and at the end of the week for the entire team to review all their work holistically.
When implementing a new process, it’s easy to simply start putting new steps into place without evaluating whether or not they’re driving actual improvements. The feeling of having “done something” to solve a problem can sometimes mask lingering problems and inefficiencies.
Retrospectives help avoid this problem (and others) by achieving the following:
Over time, this process will become a habit that helps push the team toward continuous improvement.
You don’t need many resources to run an effective retrospective. Here’s a short list of what you need:
As long as you have a room with enough space for your team, a computer, and maybe something to write with, then you’ve got all you need. There are a few useful tips worth keeping in mind here though:
That covers all your bases to get started.
Once the team has gathered at the meeting time (make sure there aren’t any stragglers), then you’re ready to get down to business. The simplest way to get going is to create and open a document that looks something like this:
That’s literally it. Simple enough, right? Now, dedicate ten minutes to each section (positives, negatives, and things to improve).
To make sure team members don’t talk over each other (if this does become a problem) consider having each person raise their hand before making a statement. If that feels too much like grade school, and if you want to make things more fun, you can have the team throw a Nerf ball or something to one another (with the ball-holder being the speaker).
While this discussion is happening, the scrum master should be documenting key points and taking notes on the discussion. These points can be summarized, but should not leave out important details.
The CoSchedule team adds another meeting to its process: a weekly meeting to recap the workweek holistically.
This meeting is very similar to a traditional sprint retrospective. What changes, however, is feedback can be offered on anything regarding the company or marketing team. Each team member also shares their personal work wins and lessons learned.
To run this meeting, follow a similar format to that outlined in the previous section. But, add lines for each team member specifically, and ask each team member to contribute at least one item. The document should look like this:
Once you’ve held a retrospective, it’s important to make sure all that feedback and all those insights don’t disappear into a black hole, where they’re never to be seen or heard again. To make these meetings valuable, that information needs to be acted upon. Here’s how to proceed.
Now, when your team has a lot of successes, there may not be much to change. No need to fix what isn’t broken, right?
When things fail or aren’t going well though, then you need to act fast before problems fester, and cause even more problems in the future. There’s a simple three-step process you can follow to get back on track:
What’s important here is to make sure the issue is addressed quickly and steps are put into place to prevent it from happening again. However, it’s also important not to overcorrect. In some cases, simply learning a lesson from a mistake may be sufficient, with no further action needed. Use your best judgement.
What if you get insights from your team for things that could just be made better? Maybe some things that could be done differently, or new things you haven’t tried before, but might deliver a positive impact?
In that case, consider the following points before moving forward:
Let’s say you decide to move forward with making an improvement to an existing process. For the sake of this example, say you’ll start reviewing email newsletters before you publish them. This is something you can start doing right away simply by assigning a team member to review copy. Next time you run a retrospective, you can follow up on whether this cut down on errors.
This concludes your guide to getting started with agile marketing processes. Hopefully, you’ve found it useful, and will consider bookmarking it for future reference. And with that, congratulations in advance on transforming your marketing team, one sprint at a time.