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Don't look back in anger: Introducing the “Retrospective”

23 April 2020

Last week I was thinking about the importance of onboarding. This week my brain is skipping to the end of the project.

Introducing the “Retrospective”

A retrospective, or if you are a cool tech type - just a casual “retro”, is a meeting held by a team at the end of a project, event or process, or sometimes just after an iteration of a process. Its purpose is to discuss what was successful about the project or period. It should also cover what could be improved, and how to incorporate those successes and improvements in future projects.

As every project and team is different, I can’t give you a strict script of what to ask in a retrospective meeting. However, the following are useful questions for your first facilitation:

💬 What did we do well, that if we don’t discuss we might forget?

💬 What did we learn?

💬 What should we do differently next time?

💬 What still puzzles us?

💬 What helped you to be successful as a team?

💬 Where and when did it go wrong in this project?

💬 Which tools or techniques proved to be useful? Which did not?

💬 If you could change one thing about this project or team, what would it be?

💬 What caused the problems that you had in this project?

💬 What kept you awake at night during this project?

💬 Which things went smoothly in this project? Which didn’t?


At the end of the meeting, you should be able to summarise for your project...

Your insights

What did we learn?

Your recommendations

What should we do the same in the future, what should we do differently, and why?

Your mysteries

Which questions and problems need further investigation?

As a project manager, I relish a post-it note filled retrospective session, but to get the most out of them you need to take action afterwards. Share your insights and recommendations with your team. Assign your inhouse Sherlock Holmes to solve the mysteries. Use what you’ve learnt to inform your next project or period plan. Don’t let those post-it notes go to waste!


There are some really fun ways of keeping regular retrospectives fresh. If you fancy a quick chat about what might work for you then head over and say hello. I don't do free consulting sessions, but I do offer a friendly 15 minutes FOC conversation to see if I can help, or set you off on your way with a starter-for-ten.