Forwardspective: A Retrospective to Shape the Future

Retrospectives are great! It's a simple and structured methodology to critically assess the most recent performance in a certain period of time. Developers know it, and good scrum teams keep on improving with retrospectives to become better and better.

According to the Scrum guidelines, a retrospective typically answers the following questions:

  • What went well?
  • What could be improved?
  • What will we commit to improve in the next sprint?

When doing retrospectives on a regular basis (like any good scrum team will do) continuous improvement is part of the process! Of course, things will only improve if actions are taken, but identifying the actions during the retrospective is the key step here.

The retrospective methodology cannot only be applied to scrum teams, but also to nearly any other parts of your business or life. You could have a personal retrospective for

  • your quarterly business goals
  • your relationship to your loved ones
  • your efforts of learning anything
  • your personal goals and their progress

Leaving the personal space you can also have a joint retrospective for

  • your teams progress in the last X weeks (not limited to software development!)
  • your companies success in the execution of it's strategy
  • your local soccer club after a season of trainings and matches

It's versatility and effectiveness if done properly are invaluable for continued growth of whatever you are striving for.

However, as retrospectives are often carried out fairly frequently the retrospective is a tool focused on the short-term - you evaluate the performance of the last time period and define improvement actions for the next time period. What's missing is a strategic assessment of the current position and the long-term future direction to take. But no longer, let me introduce the...

Forwardspective

The forwardspective is used to take a step back and evaluate the current direction where things are heading and to pivot if necessary. The forwardspective assess whether we are doing the right things whereas the retrospective is used to assess whether we are doing things right. The combination of the two methodologies is very powerful to navigate through uncertainties and constant change.

Of course, adjusting the direction too often might not make sense, which is why a forwardspective should only happen every 2-5 retrospectives, depending on the frequency of your retrospectives. In a forwardspective you discuss the following questions:

  • Why are we doing what we are doing? Answering this question reveals the true motivation of your actions and goals you are striving for.
  • Will our doing eventually take us where we want to go? This is a critical assessment of the actions you currently take. Are the actions still aligned with your motivation and goals?
  • What else could we be doing instead with our resources? This question aims to open the mind to consider alternatives to what you are currently doing. Maybe your goals have changed and your actions need to follow? Or your goals remain the same but the actions are ineffective? Think about alternatives to find out whether it's time to pivot.

The forwardspective adds a strategic component to your process and if done regularly, helps you shape the right vision for whatever you are heading for. I'd be interested to hear what your experience with forwardspectives is, so just leave a comment below this post!

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