Welcome again. Thank you for reading my monthly column. Today, we will talk about a classical book on project retrospectives by Norman Kerth.
Norman L. Kerth
Project Retrospectives. A handbook for team reviews.
In my consulting practice, I see many teams working very hard, constantly in a rush trying to save the day, making the most out of every single minute they have... and never having enough time to stop and think about how they perform. Retrospectives provide a formal way for teams to get away from their daily grind and take some time to reflect on their performance, seek an opportunity to learn and get better.
In his book, Norman Kerth does an excellent job guiding readers on how to plan, prepare, and facilitate an effective retrospective on project performance. He describes a very thorough approach to how to prepare for a retrospective in a situation when you are an outsider and do not know the details and history behind the project. He spends quite a bit of time discussing how to make a retrospective safe for all participants and provides valuable methods for extracting related project data and capturing lessons learned.
Norman's approach to retrospectives is a bit heavier than mine. He advocates for 3-4-day preferably off-site residential sessions. I tend to like shorter more frequent meetings ranging anywhere from a couple of hours to a day. In order for shorter more frequent meetings to work, you will need to minimize your project cycle time down to 1-3 months. A retrospective on a 3-year monster will certainly require substantial time and effort.
Remember, the greatest teams are great because they self-reflect and continuously improve.