Want to Build a Highly Collaborative Team?

Run Successful Retrospectives and Take the Corresponding Actions

Reshma Shahabuddin
2 min readSep 7, 2020
Image source: procured via iStock photos

There is a saying in Agile: if you do one thing, do retrospectives. I believe that not only do you have to run successful retrospectives, you must also follow through on actions. Otherwise, retrospectives just become another meeting, and they stop providing value.

Some actions are straightforward and can be easily taken care of by the team. Others are complex and need engaged leadership. These actions take time and effort, and the key is not to shy away from them just because they are difficult.

Here is what we do in our Sophos AI team:

  1. We believe that retrospectives are not only there to solve problems but also to generate ideas.
  2. We have a retrospective meeting at the end of every Sprint and one at the beginning of every quarter. We want everyone to provide feedback with no hesitation, and we vote on our actions and focus on the top three or four.
  3. We do not ask the person who mentioned a problem to also come up with a solution: we ask for volunteers and identify key people to create a working group. Here is a great HBR article on this topic [1].
  4. We switch the retrospective formats every month; otherwise, it can become tiresome to use the same plan every time [2].

Using our retrospectives, we continuously improve the way we do things. Currently, we have several initiatives underway to enhance our process in addition to collaboration with other organizations within Sophos.

I want to share one of our past retrospectives. Several team members raised concerns about an excess of meetings and having to regularly switch contexts. We agreed as a team that we needed to fix this issue, so we reviewed our meetings and identified which are most necessary while working with other organizations to reduce our number of representatives. These changes produced a very positive outcome.

Once the team realized their feedback makes a difference, our retrospectives have become more collaborative and thought provoking!


[1] https://hbr.org/2017/09/the-problem-with-saying-dont-bring-me-problems-bring-me-solutions

[2] https://www.atlassian.com/blog/jira-software/5-fun-sprint-retrospective-ideas-templates

About the Author

Reshma turns ideas into reality by connecting strategy with execution and helping teams consistently deliver high-quality products and business outcomes. She is a Principal Program Manager at Sophos. You can find her on her website rshahabuddin.com.