World Retrospective Day occurs on different days each year, either in February or March, and this year’s celebration takes place on March 25. It was created to highlight the importance of retrospectives as a practice. Volunteers worldwide participate in spreading the word and organizing its events. The term stems from software development but its applicability is more wide-reaching, as various work spaces begin to recognize the need for better team practices and culture-setting. Retrospect is a powerful tool or practice, because it can be adapted to suit the work and the team, and because it fosters deeper engagement and self-reflexivity — on both an individual and collective level.
History of World Retrospective Day
The word ‘retrospective’ comes from the Latin word ‘retrospectare,’ which means “to look back.” Hence the term ‘retro’ is used to signify anything that is in and of the past; such as retro fashion or aesthetic, or one’s case history. World Retrospective Day, however, was instituted to bring to the forefront the importance and value of retrospectives when it comes to the implementation of agile principles or frameworks. And if these terms sound alien to you at first, bear with us as we unpack them later on.
The first World Retrospective Day was observed on February 6, 2018, though little is known about who founded it (all that remains is a Facebook community page). Despite the anonymity of the founder/s; the movement has gained traction globally, with many coaching consultants and other volunteers lending their expertise and two cents to spread the practice of doing retrospectives.
The concept of the retrospective is not something new in itself. Its origins are very much rooted in the development of what we now call the “scientific method.” It began with the ancient Greek philosophers Archimedes and Aristotle, who recognized the need for inductive experimentation. In the 1500s Francis Bacon and then Galileo further built upon Aristotelian theories, shaping the scientific method into a concept applicable broadly. These central tenets of the method are what management experts then began to adapt for their purposes, which is how the concept of scrum evolved. In 1986, Hiro Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka published a paper that borrowed the term ‘scrum’ from rugby and applied it to the correlation between teamwork and project success. This was later honed in 1995 by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, who was also later a part of the ‘Snowbird 17’ — a summit of 17 key players in management and development who together wrote the “Agile Manifesto,” at the Snowbird Ski Resort, Utah, in 2001. It was a gamechanger for management professionals the world over, and the rest, as they say, is history.
World Retrospective Day timeline
Archimedes and Aristotle pioneer the central tenets of the scientific method as we know it.
Francis Bacon’s seminal work on using induction in the scientific method is published.
Hiro Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka’s publication on scrum connects teamwork to success.
Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber present ‘The SCRUM Development Process’ in Texas.
At Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah, 17 management experts release the “Agile Manifesto.”
World Retrospective Day FAQs
What do you put in a retrospective meeting?
Ideally a retrospective should celebrate the wins (big or small), describe the success of the iteration process and the areas of development, and lastly, it should plan for the next steps for improvement.
What are the three retrospective questions?
The fundamental questions to ask yourself during any retrospective are “What worked or went well?” “What needs to be improved” and “What are your action steps for the next cycle?”
What is retrospective in agile?
A retrospective is the last leg of any sprint or iteration process that the team has followed, which is based on the principles of agile. Agile aids in team decision-making, rather than using any prescribed methodology or framework. The retrospective part is when reflection happens and the team identifies improvements that need to be made for the next cycle.
World Retrospective Day Activities
Read up on agile
For those of you who think this stuff is only related to software development as a field, you may have a second thing coming. Agile is essentially a set of values and principles to help guide better decision-making, they can be used as a foundation for any professional space where teams need to work together towards common goals and outcomes. No knowledge is wasted knowledge, so why not branch out a bit and develop new critical skills.
There is a world of resources to help you plan your retro ranging from creative to fundamental. No matter your workplace, there must be some space wherein a retrospective can be held be it big or small, and if this is not a possibility, perhaps it may help to sit in on a retrospective by any of the many scrum teams.
Apply an agile principle
Once you feel you have a hang of the basics — the what and why of agile, it may be time to reflect on your own work-life and any change you wish to see or implement. The goal is to equip yourself with the tools or resources to go out there and be successful.
5 Confusing Agile-Related Terms Explained
Scrum’s a concept that puts agile principles into action, equipping teams with structure.
It’s an agile-based concept that utilizes visual representation for transparency in a team.
A short window of time wherein a short project is developed and tested out.
Similar to iteration, it’s a time frame within which specific tasks or deliverables are done.
A short team meeting with the members standing on their feet to ensure it doesn’t drag on!
Why We Love World Retrospective Day
It highlights the power of retrospectives
Retrospectives are powerful tools when utilized in the right way to help set teams up for success and motivate continual improvement. Not only do they have implications on a large-scale, global level, they also change how teamwork and work cultures are shaped and perceived in all spheres of work life.
It has universal relevance
Most of us are, will be, or have been working professionals at some point in our lives (the bills certainly don’t pay themselves!). So the relevance of the retrospective, and indeed, the Agile principles as a whole, cannot be ignored. In a fast-paced, fast-changing world, learning to prioritize and engage is always a good thing, and retrospectives allow us the space to do so.
Adaptable and educational
A lot can be learned from tenets of agile; the best part is that a retrospective can be adapted to suit different contexts. Imagine retrospectives in a classroom setting, for instance — they would challenge learners to dig deep and think more critically.
World Retrospective Day dates