|Easy retros||Hard retros|
|Surface level discussions||Deep discussions|
|Talk mostly about things||Talk mostly about people|
|No-emotions-zone||Feelings drive the topics|
|No vulnerability required||Let’s get vulnerable y’all|
|Not much conflict||Full of conflict|
|Boring, begs for multitasking||Exciting, can’t look away|
|Waste of time||Irreplaceable|
When someone says retros aren’t valuable, they usually mean easy retros aren’t valuable. They just don’t know there’s any other type.
This point of view usually leads to one of two things:
- “They’re not valuable but they’re required so we’ll keep doing them.” OR:
- “They’re not valuable so let’s just stop doing them.”
I don’t often see the third option: “They’re not valuable so let’s fix them.” And the way to fix them is to make them harder. Be more honest. Say how you’re really feeling. Argue. Dig freaking deep.
People say therapists are only valuable if you don’t hold anything back. The same is true for retros. If you hold back, then you aren’t talking about the real issues. Of course they aren’t valuable if you’re skipping the stuff that hurts the most! It’s like going to a doctor for the cut on your toe but ignoring your recurring chest pain.
Make them harder to make them good. A team that does hard retros well is a team that can’t lose.