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Most product managers and coaches struggle with frustrating outcomes. The answer to such a situation lies in the retrospectives. The Retrospectives-tool is an essential of the PMs toolkit and relies on learning, transparency and exploring curiosity in a safe environment. The product retrospectives can transform product processes, improve products, and offers an opportunity for continued learning through the iterative product development life-cycle.

Why Retrospectives?

The retrospective generates actions based on consensus and produces new information unlike the regular meets reviewing past performance, data and actions.
It is a based-in-reality change and action process which can be undertaken to occur at regular intervals. For example the quarterly review of road-maps, the finish of a sprint iteration, after a release, sales /client meeting, product launch or the hypothesis-testing. The retrospective reviews what, how and why in terms of reviewing over a fixed timeframe the desired outcome or event and comprises the entire product development community of stakeholders, customers, product and development teams.
The accruing benefits:
The retrospective is beneficial when it is able to: 

  • Use and gather community collective-wisdom.
  • Be neutral and non-judgmental about the truth.
  • Find areas for improvement and appreciation.
  • Generate beneficial product insights.
  • Try, change and make commitments to improvement actions.

The main benefits accrue when retrospectives are used for: 
·         Active Engagement.
·         Go beyond the process.
·         Use product data to make better product decisions.
Let us explore how retros help under each head.
Active engagement:
Retrospectives are important Scrum events for the teams in product development. However, the PD Managers avoid shoddily run meets on product quality instead of addressing the issues and making situations better. They are also useful in mutual learning and resolving key issues like strained team member relationships.
Transparency, a safe environment, and open communications are key in the retros. Product leadership starts with discussing in a neutral non-judgemental environment even undiscussables. The skilled facilitator can then help transition the team to the high-performance zone.

Go beyond the process:

Most times the Retrospectives are useful in development processes and go beyond product releases and sprint iterations. Retrospectives are event-based learning from events like the product launch, hypothesis test, product/customer research, roadmap-outcomes, and customer conferences. Your leverage depends on the events linked to your product, engaging the right people and post-event retros to learn from.

Use product data to make better product decisions:

Typically any retrospective involves the data gathering, culling of insights, and product-data focus for making good business decisions.

The Retrospective structure:

A structure has a series of activities like: 

  1. Readying the stage: Here one collects data required, starts the session with stakeholders, defines parameters for retro success, and creates retro safety.
  2. Using past data: Data here is used to recreate and tell the story using shared resources of quantitative and qualitative data.
  3. Draw present insights: This phase reflect on feelings and facts, interprets data accordingly, looks and understands the whole scenario while answering the top five retro-questions.
  4. Make future decisions: Here one decides the actions for implementation and decides what and when to change.
  5. Retro Closure: The whole process is reviewed for future use and improvements.

In retros, data is both quantitative (like coding, tech debts, quality, defects, etc) and qualitative (like happiness, reviews, reactions, etc). It also includes metrics of the HEART (like customer happiness, engagement, outcomes, adoption, task success, retention, etc). Factors like revenue, loss/win results, costing results over a time-period, metrics of marketing campaigns, test findings, hypothesis testing, and conversion rates are also part of it.

Retrospectives help to learn:

Retrospectives can enable learning when such learning is reinforced and is essential for self-direction, immediacy, and relevance. By Immediacy, one means you apply your learning immediately, by relevance one means it applies aptly to our situations,  and self-direction implies taking control of retrospection and make learning-based changes. Retrospectives hence should be mindful of everyone’s involvement in things that need change and the achievement of change itself.

Conclusion:

Retrospectives go beyond the obvious thinking. To practically use and reap better retrospective-based outcomes, the product leaders have to determine when to use, who can best facilitate, learn all about the timing, duration, etc, and possess safety from a psychological perspective.
In conclusion, ask yourself if using retrospectives and better productivity interests you. Do an Agile course at Imarticus Learning to further your career today.

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Imarticus Learning is India’s leading professional education institute that offers training in Financial Services, Data Analytics & Technology. We’ve successfully transformed careers of over 35,000+ individuals globally through our Certification, Prodegree, and Post Graduate programs offered in association with leading and renowned global organisations in the Financial Services, Data Analytics & Technology domain.
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