Running your first retrospective can be tough. To help you out, we've put together the different steps to create a killer retrospective. Read on to learn more.

Remember: Every view point is valid

When you assemble a team, the hope and the goal is to ensure that everyone comes to the table with skills that help the team achieve its goal. That is not an easy thing to accomplish, but when you're running a retrospective, the assumption you have to go in with is that everyone has a valid view point and reasons for thinking how they do. That also means that not everyone is confident enough to have their voice heard, but they could have a lot of insight

This is where a tool like lightpaper can come in useful. It allows multiple people to log on to a board and put all their ideas for everyone to review, without fear of speaking up or over people

Step 1: Make a board

Photo of columns

This part is easy, just create a new board. In lightpaper, when you register, you'll be asked what kind of board you want to make. If you need to make a new one, you can do it on the left sidebar by clicking on manage boards. There, you will find options to make a new board.

Your board should reflect the needs of the time. One of the most common retro formats is start, stop, continue. This is where you review what you should start doing, what you should stop, and what you should continue. Another type frequently used is liked, lacked, longed for and loved. As you can see, these formats are quite self explanatory, but they are there to try and get out what people are thinking about the last time period you are studying.

With lightpaper you can also create your own columns, giving you ultimate flexibility to drive discussions how you want to

Step 2: Get everyone online!

Make sure everyone is online and get ready to start. Start with the first column, and ask the team to spend 3-5 minutes putting sticky notes in this column. They can write down all their ideas, issues, and things they want to fix. After that, move onto the next column. At this stage, you do not need to discuss any points. When you've finished, wrap up this part of the meeting and move onto grouping.

It's really important you examine the good things that have happened by using a column similar to 'continue'. That way you can celebrate the team's successes as well as areas for improvements. Remember, the point of a retrospective is to make your team the best it can be, so it's important everyone approaches it with that mindset.

Step 3: Grouping

No doubt similar themes will have come up. You, or anyone on the team can start to pull notes on top of each other to gather similar themes and reduce repetition. To do this in lightpaper, you just have to pull a note on top of another. No doubt you'll be left with a much smaller list of items to review.

Step 4: Voting

Photo of columns

The most important part is consensus. Lots of people think lots of things are wrong, all the time. But is that what everyone thinks? In social media today, it's really easy to get into thinking the loudest voice wins, but it doesn't have to be that way with a retro.

In Lightpaper there are two ways to vote: votes in the note or task, which is shown as a thumbs up, or you can also do a timed vote which is available as an option from the toolbar. When you are voting you have two options: Vote on each column or vote holistically. What you choose depends on your situation. Are there lots of problems with your team, or is your team very new, or are you focusing on continuous improvement? Vote on every column to ensure that every part of the process is taken into consideration. Is this just a quick retro and you don't have much time? Vote on everything at once.

Step 5: Create your actions

Now is the important part, what you're going to do about it. Often, the continue, loved, or equivalent 'team celebration' column requires no actions, so for deciding on actions, it's often best to focus on what needs to be changed. There's a lot of different ways to do this, but often what I've done in the past is select the top 5 and create an action plan around what we'll do to fix them. If you have a lot, you might pick the top 5 from each column, or an overall top 5.

With lightpaper, you can turn your notes straight into tasks by clicking and selecting 'Change to Task'. This will transform the note into something assignable, and you'll be able to put a name against it. As well, you can assign an acceptance criteria and description to ensure the action is clear.

Now you should have a list of easily trackable actions. If you've done a timed vote, you can also export this vote as a .csv by going into your vote history and opening it.

Step 6: Step away from your computer

That's it, now you've got an action plan, and a bunch of tasks that need to be done! If you want to help your team run your retros and track it all with ease, you can register for lightpaper by clicking here.

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