The End-of-Year Retrospective

The year is at its end, your team is getting ready for holidays and days off. But before everyone leaves there is one thing you should do. An end-of-year retrospective.

(if your team is already off for holidays, then make sure you do it once they all come back)

I know, I never stop talking about it. But this time it is different because instead of reviewing only your past sprint, you have an opportunity to review the whole year. 

The end-of-year retrospective is a different kind of beast as it forces us to really think about everything that’s happened and use it as learning for the future year.

When everyone gets back from vacation in January, it will be a perfect time to start some things anew. You can benefit from the break in the middle as a way to disconnect and look at your ways of working from a new angle. 

But to do that you need to prepare with a well run end-of-year retrospective. 

100 Achievements Retrospective Exercise

Using 100 achievements exercise can help everyone remember what happened during the year and recognize it. 

  1. To do this, gather the team in on big enough space for them to move around and give each one a piece of paper and a pen. 
  2. Then ask them to move around and find a pair. Each person needs to tell their pair partner three things the team has accomplished since the beginning of the year. No repetition. 
  3. Once the pair have come up with three distinctive team accomplishments on each side, they need to find a new pair. 
  4. Once again, each pair partner needs to come up with three new things they don’t have on their list and didn’t hear from anyone.

First things will be obvious. But the more rounds you have the smaller and more meaningful the realizations of accomplishments will be. 

You can try different variations of the same exercise: 100 experiments run, 100 failures, 100 challenges solved, and many more.

By recognizing what we have achieved, what we have tried and where we have failed, we’ll be able to build transparency needed to inspect and adapt our ways of working.

Now tell me, can your team come up with 100 team accomplishments for the year? 

Timeline Retrospective

You can also try to run a timeline retrospective technique that allows your team to review all the meaningful events that happened over a period of time and identify their impact on the team’s progress.

I describe the Sprint Timeline technique in much detail in my book Retrospectives: A Scrum Master’s Guide. A short description can be found on the Fun Retrospectives website. This technique is also a part of the Retrospective Poker cards

Whatever technique you decide to use, think about focusing on positive side of things. After a long year of work, it is important to end the year with strong understanding of what the team has achieved. It will give a small boost of morale and will make people realise progress made. And, of course, it will give something positive to think about while you dig deeper into the things that could be improved. 

Here you go – a great way to end the year as a Scrum Team. And if everyone has already left, it can be a great way to start the year instead. 

If you are looking for more ideas for your retrospectives, check the Sprint Retrospective tag in my blog.

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About the author

Hi, my name is Daria Bagina. I’m a Professional Scrum Trainer with and a experience Agile leader. I help teams and organizations to get the most out of the Scrum and Agile implementation by sharing my personal stories and practical advice.

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