Your retrospectives are going to be only as good as the way you facilitate them. A fun and engaging retro will open many doors and keep your team on the way towards continuous improvement. On the other hand, a boring and ill-facilitated meeting won’t result in anything other than a wasted hour for everyone involved.

Facilitating a great retrospective depends very much on following the best practices and choosing the right tool for the purpose. Before reaching the end of this guide, you will see how easy it is to do so with ScatterSpoke.

Before diving into that, it is important to understand the purpose and scope of a retrospective. Retros are an incredible opportunity for your team to look back at the work you’ve processed during the last sprint. The goal of doing so is to learn, connect, and grow as a team continuously.

The traditional process for running a retrospective consists of five stages:

  • Set the Stage- define the goal and focus of the retrospective

  • Gather Data - reflect to create a shared pool of information

  • Generate Insights - discuss themes and identify patterns

  • Decide What to Do- pick a few issues to discuss and create plans to address

  • Close the Retrospective- review action items and gather feedback on the retro

With that covered, let’s dive into the process of facilitating a retrospective with ScatterSpoke.


Creating a New Retrospective

The first thing you need to do to facilitate a retrospective with ScatterSpoke is to log into the platform. If this is your first time doing so, please check out the dedicated guide to getting started with ScatterSpoke.

Once inside, you can set the stage for a new retrospective directly from the team/organization dashboard. All you need to do is click on the purple button saying "Create team retrospective" in the top-right menu.

When you decide to create a new one, you can choose between two types of templates:

  • Column - organize your retro on a Kanban-style digital board

  • Canvas - organize your retro on a digital whiteboard

Select a template, name your retro and choose between the following accessibility options to finish setting up your first retro board:

  • Make visible to anyone with the link allows even people who are not part of the account to participate in the retrospective (ex. Stakeholders, dependencies, etc.)

  • Add parking lot items as a column generates an additional column on the retro board for items that are on hold or added from your Slack or Teams channels

  • Add unresolved action items as a column generates an additional column on the retro board for unresolved action items

Once inside, you have access to many options for facilitating the meeting by following all the best practices and customizing the settings to meet your needs.

You can rename columns by clicking on their names and replacing the text inside. To delete a column, just select the three-dot menu located at the top right corner of it and choose “delete” from the options that pop up.

Adding a new column is even easier - just click on the namesake button on the right. To switch the order of the retro board columns, click on the one you wish to move and drag it in the direction you need to.


Facilitating your Retrospective

Before you begin, set the ground rules for the meeting. The Prime Directive is a great place to start:

"Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand."

--Norm Kerth, Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Review

1) REFLECT

Start your retro by inviting the team to add their feedback to the board. This is a great place to set a time box and use the timer in the facilitator controls so everyone knows how much time is remaining.

To prevent groupthink from influencing the feedback that you collect, we recommend that you turn on private feedback. This ensures that each member of your retro will only see the cards that they type until you are ready to reveal all the feedback. You can hover over this icon to see the total percentage of participation to help you decide when to expose all the cards.

2) GROUP

Once all your cards are visible, invite the team to group similar items together by dragging them together. Cards can be grouped across columns. Give your group a name that summarizes the intent. Any comments or themes associated with individual cards will be combined in the group.

3) VOTE

Invite the team to vote for the items they feel need the most attention or further discussion. Setting vote count to define the number of votes each team member can use. You can hover over this icon to see the total percentage of participants who have voted.

Votes will appear in real-time however, we recommend that you turn on private voting to hide the number of votes each topic gets until revealed. This ensures that participant will only see their own votes.

4) DISCUSS

You can sort all cards to filter the topics with the highest number of votes to the top of each column. This will sort the board for all participants as well so they can see the cards in the order that you will discuss them

This is another great time to use the timer to ensure that you have enough time to get through all of the items identified.

5) ACT

Be sure to leave time to identify and capture action items. Great action items are the key to making your retrospectives impactful and should be specific and measurable. Be sure to note an owner and due date for follow-up in your next retro.


Dealing with Action Items after a Retrospective

To manage action items after each retrospective, just click on the “Action Items Button” in the top menu. It is available from anywhere within the platform. Besides giving you the ability to create new action items, it provides you with the opportunity to see both unresolved and resolved items from past retrospectives.

From the Action items menu, you can change the assignee, due date, and leave comments on each item. Once done, you can resolve an action item straight from there.

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