Routinized retrospectives are worthless

There’s immense value in reflecting upon past work and finding ways to grow. However, when you build in a permanent, recurring checkpoint where reflection is mandated you won’t get much out of the process. Perhaps when you’re first building the habit of using a retrospective to improve, you want to pencil it in on a certain basis, at least to be reminded to think about it. But at the end of the day, people have to want to do a retrospective.

People have to feel the need. Otherwise the session will be contrived at best and filled with obligatory reflection filled with inconsequential observation. People will dread the experience and they’ll say anything to get it over with.

Both incremental improvements and breakthroughs necessitate the urgency that only feelings can implore.

If however, people learn to recognize a situation in which they could benefit from reflection, and then decide to reflect in order to improve, then retrospectives can be immensely valuable. For it is in feeling that something is awry, that one can search for the cause or opportunity to raise the bar to the next level.

Do not schedule retrospectives. Have them when you feel you need to have them. If you don’t feel you’re having them often enough, then perhaps it is time to consider having one.