Remote Retrospective Tool

Last post 08:34 am April 10, 2020
by Sanjeev Nanda
12 replies
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02:01 am January 15, 2020

Hi,

I am the facilitator of a remote development team. (each person is in a different Europe country)

I would like to know how to perform good remote retrospectives.

I'm using this tool Neatro which is awesome but I feel like I am missing something. 

Do you guys have best practices about taking the best from an online retrospective ?

Thank you !

 

08:05 am January 15, 2020

I find etiquette more important than the tools.

So a shared understanding of the purpose of the retrospective, and agreements to make sure everyone gets a chance to be heard (not talking over each other, for example). Proactively telling colleagues if their connection is substandard, and those colleagues taking action on it. Team members turning cameras on, so facial expression and body language can be seen. Being courteous to eliminate distractions such as noise, or people moving in the background. Timeboxing discussions and sticking to those timeboxes. Being comfortable stepping in with each other, when one colleague goes into a monologue.

As for tools, Miro does a good job of emulating a whiteboard and post-it notes. I've also had moderate success using trello.

04:17 pm January 15, 2020

I second everything @Simon Mayer said in his first paragraph.  I have even had teams that would visually indicate when they wanted to say something while others were talking (some would actually raise their hand).  This helps to keep the conversation going and ensure that everyone can hear what is being said. 

As for tools, I've used things as simple as shared Google Docs or Sheets.  It isn't quite as visual as digital sticky notes but it still allows everyone to collaborate and you can actually see when/what others are typing. Plus it is easy to save the articifact if you need. I've used Trello also.  Microsoft has a free tool called Whiteboard that is not terrible. I'm also going to make an assumption that you have some kind of video conferencing tool and probably a messenger app of some kind.  You might look into plugins for them as this kind of need is becoming more and more prevelant.  

04:44 pm January 15, 2020

I echo the comments about ensuring the etiquette and general respect for working together is cleared up first then worry about what tool to use, if any.

ideaboardz.com is one that I use a lot. It's not the greatest because it doesn't offer much in the way of editing the board configuration once you start but it is free and works well enough.

05:54 pm January 15, 2020

funretrospectives.com is another site that provides a tool as well as several different formats for facilitating retrospectives. 

06:15 pm January 15, 2020

I'm using this tool Neatro which is awesome but I feel like I am missing something. 

Can you clarify in any way what you feel is missing? Is it something which, if the team were properly co-located, you suspect would be improved?

04:10 am January 16, 2020

Thank you all for your answer. It really helps.

I did try these other tools but I'm really happy with this one right now. 

@Ian : I feel like I cannot feel the frustrations or the need to help someone develop what he thinks as I would if we were all in the same room.

But I think it's a new muscle I need to train through videoconference.

04:06 pm January 16, 2020

Reading the room is hard to do when there are multiple rooms involved.  One thing I suggest is to have everyone use cameras so that faces can be seen at least. If some of them are in a big room, you might suggest that they try joining from desks and individual computers/cameras. Level the playing field across the team and it becomes easier for everyone.  Being able to actually see the people instead of just listening to a voice will actually help everyone. A good video capable meeting system is actually much more important than a tool that will simulate sticky notes on a whiteboard. 

05:11 pm January 16, 2020

You're always going to want to see each other, even if you're all in a different location. People are people and not resources.

One tool I've been using is https://funretro.io The free account is a little limited BUT you can hide all of the cards and then unhide them when people are done. One behavior I have seen is folks will not write all their thoughts if they think someone else's thoughts already captures it. There's something to be said about the difference of seeing 3 or 4 cards that are the same vs one card with 3 or 4 thumbs up on it.

03:50 pm April 4, 2020

Hello everyone!

It seems that my question is very similar to this topic.

I just wanted to ask whether your teams have had to switch to remote working due to quarantine? 

I know some SM use games, techniques or exercises when conducting ceremonies with your team, e.g. planning poker for Plannings, icebreakers for Retros - how do you organize them now? Perhaps, there is a tool for that (not just the one with board and stickers)?

09:20 am April 7, 2020

All of these responses are very enlightening. I did not imagine a remote observer could be this agile, to say the least. Some tools over here, I did not even think were even a thing before. A very informative thread that should be archived.
~Sanjeev Nanda

05:35 pm April 9, 2020

I would also add that I've learned that THE best remote tool is just to talk. Sometimes we SM's put so much focus on getting the game for the retro or doing the best format and we get blinded to what the team actually needs. My last retros, we spent the majority of time just having a free form discussion. We were able to get action items from it, we were able to be more open and it was what I needed, and what my teams needed. 

Tl;Dr: Don't focus too heavily on the tool, focus on the people. Don't underestimate the power of talking.

08:34 am April 10, 2020

Curtis Slough is on the money! Sometimes, we become entrenched in channels and protocols that we forget the foundations of effective and two-way communication. Whenever you get the chance to have a free-form discussion, use it to the fullest. Additionally, make room for an open forum to take place from time to time.