The Need For Frequent Personal Retrospectives

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Personal Retrospective Questions
Personal Retrospective Questions

In Scrum (An Agile method) we hold a retrospective at the end of every Sprint (A working period, typically 2 to 4 weeks long). During a retrospective we ask questions like; “What worked well this Sprint?”, “What do we need to do differently next Sprint?” The point of these questions is give the team some encouragement and to look for opportunities for improvement. Do you ever find that you need a pat on the back and some ideas to improve your life? If so, then why not conduct frequent retrospectives on yourself?

In order to conduct a personal retrospective follow these 5 easy steps:

Step One:

  • Choose a set of questions to ask yourself. Sample questions include:

Step Two:

  • Have yourself and whomever is joining you (If anyone) answer the questions. I like to put one answer per Post-It note in order to make the next steps easier

Step Three:

  • Group similar ideas and look for any patterns that emerge. Again, having the Post-It notes on the wall makes this process easier

Step Four:

  • Prioritize the ideas that you came up with. Of all the ideas that were uncovered, what is the one most important thing that you can do right now in order to improve your life the most?

Step Five:

  • Taking the highest priority item; create a plan with assigned tasks and due dates in order to make it happen. For instance, let’s say that you discover that you are wasting too much time watching television and that you would rather be reading (Non-fiction of course) instead. Your tasks might be; when I get home from work each day, instead of watching TV, I will sit down for 30 minutes and read. I will ask my spouse to hold me accountable and tell me if they catch me watching TV instead of reading.
Personal Agility - Level 1 Practice
Personal Agility – Level 1 Practice

That’s it, 5 simple steps to conducting your own personal retrospective. Here are some tips in order to help you be more successful:

  • I always try to invite at least one other person to my personal retrospectives. Sometimes we have a “rose-colored” view of ourselves and we need someone else to be honest with us
  • Sometimes having a neutral facilitator can be beneficial. I discovered my purpose in life during a personal retrospective conducted by an executive coach that I hired
  • Choose a venue that will make you comfortable. I have held a personal retrospective in a classroom, a friend’s basement, and even on the ski slopes
  • Changing the questions that you ask each time can lead to new insights
  • Be willing to be vulnerable and honest with yourself. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it is the best medicine
  • During your retrospective you may uncover several good ideas to implement in your life. Resist the urge to try them all, stick to the most important one and make that change first. You can always come back to the other ideas later
  • Once you decide on which idea to implement, find an accountability partner to hold your feet to the fire to make it happen. We are asking ourselves to change our behavior and when we have to answer to someone else it becomes easier

Set aside some time for frequent personal retrospectives and you will not only encourage yourself, but you will also uncover ways to improve your life.

We would like to hear what questions you ask yourself during your personal retrospectives. Please share your questions in the comments section below.