Rocket retrospective routines
During the past 8 months, I’ve been on a team with a weekly routine I really appreciated. (Rocket?! Yeah, the best team names make no attempt at explaining task or responsibilities…) I want to find out more about why our team activities worked so well for me. Here’s what we did:
- 📅 Set up a private Trello board with one list for each workday.
- 📝 Write lots of cards! About everything and anything, at any time.
- ☕️ Go through the previous week together every Monday morning.
Nothing is considered off-topic when writing
All sorts of thoughts would be dumped into these cards. “Look at all the code I deleted!” “Meh, I’m feeling useless today.” “Cool idea we should try!” “wtf, this really sucks.” Sometimes it could be a specific issue I wanted to discuss with the others later. But most of the time, it was a lot of random and seemingly unimportant comments. The majority of notes were short, just a couple of words. But occasionally rants. Or screenshots. And GIFs! I’d often notice that the benefit of writing down a frustration, was that venting made it easier to let go and move on that day.
Time and space on a small team
Three team members and one product owner had access. It’s not that anything on there was secret, but having a private conversation with four people means less filtering. I made cards that would otherwise be missing, shared thoughts I would have kept to myself on a larger team or on an open Trello board. Being few people meant there was more space for each of us, and we had time to listen to each other. I didn’t feel like I was wasting other people’s time, I didn’t have to worry so much about being misunderstood or spend a lot of energy weighing my words.
A week is a long time when revisiting thoughts
Starting each new week by going through our cards made a great Monday morning activity. I never stopped being surprised by how long ago a card from last week could feel. Collectively revisiting everything was incredibly supportive. Perhaps just reaffirming the validity of my frustrations, or getting help to put something in perspective. Sometimes being challenged or seeing a problem reframed, giving me the opportunity to completely rethink what seemed inevitable last week. This hour was often the most constructive single hour of the week.
What I learned, and what now?
We’ve had a reorganizing, and the Monday morning Rocket Retro is history for now. So I’m pondering what I can take with me from this routine, which parts can benefit me on my own.
Collect observations — These are ideas in the making but not even half-baked ones yet. Write them down anyway. Sometimes an observation from last week can trigger a whole new trail of thought and brand new shiny ideas this week.
Gain perspective — It’s helpful to discover that what felt like a big deal last week just doesn't anymore, after some days have gone by. A lot of this effect works by myself too.
Celebrate wins — It will always and forever be excellent to be reminded of cool shit, progress and accomplishments. And hey, celebrating alone means more shameless brags.
Ask for help — Our rocket retro routines were a default support system built into my work week. It is possible to emulate the most important part, by picking the issues I really need to discuss with someone and making sure that happens.