Retrospectives Are Not Only For Teams

I am the agile PM for a small team that augments an application team. Our team assist towards reliability, scalability of the micro services the application team is building. Ani, the team lead and I know each other for almost a year. We have been on the same team for about four weeks and  work very well together. Suddenly, last week we ran into a couple issues and misunderstandings. This triggered the idea to have our own one-on-one retro.

To us this was a bigger epiphany than you might think. We are both very transparent and direct. We speak daily and say it as it is. We participate in the weekly the team retrospectives, which are excellent, safe and productive. What made the retro so valuable for us was the use of a fixed template to help us guide the conversation and make us think beyond our recent up and downs.

We used a very simple template:

  1. PM told the TL what TL does well, the PM appreciates and helps support the team
  2. TL shared what he thinks the PM does well

We created a positive mood and confirmed what we thought we did well. There were a few surprises which were food for thought.

  1. PM mentioned where the PM himself could improve
  2. The TL did the same

By sharing our perspective on how we could improve we made it easier to provide constructive criticism on each other. We had both been open and said we had room to grow, Saying is a lot stronger than knowing. We also covered several of the comments we would have made on each other.

  1. TL listed what he thought were the main impediments coming from the PM
  2. The PM went over the opportunities for the TL to improve

Some items were trivial. Just a matter of awareness or very simple action items. We had only one challenge we decided need some further thought. We finished with

  1. PM enumerated what he thought were his strong points
  2. The TL shared his

We are not sure how beneficial this last round was but it felt more even that way 🙂

We did this within thirty minutes. We created awareness, removed annoyances and created actual action items. Retrospectives are not for teams alone.

The opinions represented in this blog are my own, and not that of my employer or the  organizations that I work with.


Anirvan (Ani) Chakraborty is the Technical Director at Bamtech Media and leads the Technical Solution Engineering teams. He is a passionate programmer, published author and a big fan of open source software, currently experimenting with Site Reliability Engineering.

Picture reproduced from Quickscrum