Phase 3 of Retrospective: Generate Insights

Many teams skip the Generate Insights phase of the retrospective or do a bare minimum of it (like clustering of similar items), usually jumping to generating action items immediately. Sometimes it makes sense if the problems are relatively simple and the solutions are quite obvious. But we tend to oversimplify the reality and cure symptoms instead of understanding and solving the real problem.

Step 3 of Retrospective: Generate Insights. Drawing by Julia Västrik

This stage helps us find recurring patterns, correlations, root causes and deep systemic problems and also move behind habitual thinking.

The possible activities here might be different types of Root cause analysis like 5 Why’s, Cause-Effect-Diagram, Ishikawa diagram or something simple like clustering items with the same cause. Another idea might be mapping the problems to our process flowchart to see which part of the process causes the most of them and where, therefore, we need to put more focus.

We can also generate insights by moving behind habitual thinking and using our imagination. One of the activities that many teams like is “The worst we can do (How could we ruin the next iteration for sure)”, followed by “The best we could do”. This activity, being very energising and funny at the same time, reveals many interesting patterns and possible risks. Futurospectives (like “Remember the Future”) might also be a great source for insights.

Other activities to consider to encourage out-of-the-box thinking:

  • Perfection Game – What would make the next iteration a perfect 10 out of 10?
  • Undercover Boss – If your boss had witnessed the last iteration, what would she want you to change?
  • If I were you  – What could sub-groups improve when interacting with others?
  • Poster Session – Split a large group into smaller ones that create posters.
  • Election Manifesto – Different parties present manifestos for change. Who will get your vote?
  • Speed Dating – Each team member explores one topic in depth in a series of 1:1 talks
  • BYOSM – Build your own Scrum Master – The team assembles the perfect SM & takes different points of view
  • and even Lean Coffee – Use the Lean Coffee format for a focused discussion of the top topics
Lean Coffee. Drawing by Julia Västrik





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *