What are the three cornerstones of a successful retrospective?
At least five action points, just kidding. In my opinion, a successful retrospective does not always have to have the same elements of success, but I will raise a few points as the most important:
1) A goal, context or theme is set for the meeting
At least the probabilities of a retro or meeting deteriorating increase if no goal, context, or theme is set for it, that is, what would be desired. It doesn’t matter if it’s a retrospective or any meeting. It’s more likely to get watered down if you just kill time and talk about something that doesn’t lead to anything.
Nevertheless, the dialogue itself can be valuable, it is only a more difficult thing to measure. It can be a thumb vote, feelings index, or any other metric of perceived benefit. It is enough to measure success in the retrospective.
2) The agreed measures go where the operations are run
Of course, it is good if there are action points decided at the retrospective. I think the retrospectives have suffered from inflation in terms of action points, because often the decided actions in the retrospect are somehow a separate matter in themselves and do not move into the same medium where the work of the team is prioritized anyway. If what is agreed in the retro does not become part of sprint planning or other work planning, then it is unlikely that they will be done. If we have a software development team, less often those actions will swim where the action is run, be it Jira, Trello, or post-it tags on the wall, but that’s where they should go.
3) Everyone is heard
One of the signs of a successful retro is that everyone is heard no matter how quiet or loud people are. The leader must make sure everyone has a say. No one should be left with the feeling of not being able to participate. I have to praise digital Topaasia as well because it works very well in that everyone is able to pick up a conversation and say out loud the ideas that are relevant at that moment.