In Retrospect . . . It is not just for Agile Projects

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I have worked on over 100 projects in my career, from very small projects to large multi year projects.  I enjoy getting things done and working on the new challenges everyday.  The one thing that I love about agile project management is the retrospective.  After every sprint, there is a meeting to talk about what went right and what could be improved.  This allows the project team to think back over the past few weeks and bring up ideas to help improve the team move forward.

The forming–storming–norming–performing model of group development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965.  These phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results. The Retrospective helps the team move through these phases much faster.

In contrast, the traditional project management, there is a lessons learned meeting at the end that can help.  I have found that when some projects are complete, more projects take their place, customers want to move forward, resources have other work.  So, the lessons learned meeting in closing phase usually do not happen.

Now here is  a good idea that you should try.  When you are managing a traditional project, (initiating, planning, executing, controlling, closing) the project manager should have a regular interval meeting that explores what is going right and what needs to be improved.  This little practice will help bring your team closer together and start to perform faster.  Just remember the prime directive.

“Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.”

–Norm Kerth, Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Review

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