Over the last couple of years, I’ve started to appreciate retrospectives in a way that I hadn’t before: I’d felt for a while that they made sense intellectually, but I was never actually good at them. And, while that hasn’t particularly changed (fortunately, other people on teams I’ve been on are better at them!), I have now seen several instances where I’ve felt like they’ve had concrete benefits and where I could see the seeds of a rhythm developing.
So that’s great! And I’ve also learned something about retrospectives in the process. I’d always thought of the main benefit of retrospectives being that it helps you improve your process. But there’s another benefit beyond that: the fact that you’re doing retrospectives means that you have a process.
I mean, you can do retrospectives without writing down every aspect of your process. But the fact that you’re talking about some aspect of what your team is doing means that, in that area, you have a process. Which is good, irrespective of the benefits of tuning the process! Or at least it can be good: a bad process is probably worse than no process, but neither of those options is a place where I personally would want to be.
Thinking about it a bit more, there’s another benefit lurking in the assumptions that are prerequisites for a retrospective: the fact that you have a team at all, and that the team members’ thoughts are all worth listening to.
This post has not been revised since publication.