An idea for a release Retro

An idea for a release Retro
Simon Bristow, my fellow engineering manager, and I sat down yesterday to brainstorm how to run a cross-organisational retro for a major release. This release was 8 development sprints and 2 Regression sprints long, a total of 20 weeks.

Here is what we dreamt up, I'll follow up with a post on how it all went:


Representatives from the various areas of the organization (no more than say 25 in total) – Suggestions of key people welcomed, but at a minimum:

Prod Ops, at least one member of each Sprint team, COPS (Client operations), Helpdesk, Triage, Marketing, UX


Rather than asking the groups to come up with Themes, we propose that S, H and I look through related Retro notes, information on the Sprint notes (from our Wiki) and canvass you other people in the organisation for Themes to pre-populate on the day. We’ll discuss and get say 8-10 themes for the day and place them around the room on butchers paper prior to folk coming in. These themes should be about a particular activity that we typically do during the entire release period. (Example: How good are we at Production releases, How good were we at reducing regression phase length, how good are we at prediciting what we can get done? Etc)


We proposed that everyone in the room than votes on a scale of 1-10 how good we are at the particular theme, and places their vote in a ballot box in front of each ‘theme’. The votes are than averaged out and the average written on the sheet of butchers paper along with the Theme.

Trivia comp

As per Simons last trivia comp, a short collection of questions that help remind people what happened during the time frame of 10.0, including both related to this Organisation and global trivia. (also helps the assistant count votes)

Group people together

Get the attendees to choose a theme and group around it. Some tapping on shoulders to fill one theme up and split up people from the same area (if required) We suspect that say, Marketing folk wouldn’t want to be involved in “Production Deploy “ like themes for instance, so some jiggery pokery will be needed.

Group activity

Get the groups to go away and work on some thoughts around the theme. Specifically:

Top 3 reasons why they think we got the score we did

3 actions to improve the score

Return to room – AVGE vote competition

As the teams return – draw the winner of each ‘avge’ vote – closest to the vote wins a prize


Team presents their findings

We than group similar findings and nominate owners of the actions

Trivia results

Wrap with the results of the trivia challenge and award a prize

Run Order

1. Present themes – 10-15 minutes

2. Voting rules – 5 minutes

3. Vote – 5-10 minutes

4. Trivia competition – 10 – 15 minutes

5. Group people together – 10 minutes

6. Group discussion – 30 minutes

7. Competition – closest to avge vote – 5 minutes

8. Groups present findings – 45 minutes

9. Trivia answers and prize (WRAP) – 10-15 minutes

Guesstimates on time there, worked out about 2 ½ hours?

As I mentioned, we havent run this Retro yet, so I'll post back on how it went.


  1. Interesting article. I'd be keen to hear how the release retro actually played out and what, if any, tweaks you'd make for future release retros. Also, hello!

  2. Da(?)
    Thanks for the comment. The retro ran pretty well. Our release cycle is fairly long, up to 16 weeks at times, so ensuring we help the attendees recall what happened during that period was important.
    The outcomes were generally around how we could communicate better, especially around scheduling and what changes are coming up. The retro included people from around the business, so getting them engaged was almost as important as the outcomes.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Using an agile storyboard as a scale of certainty

The surprise of reverse culture shock. Returning to Australia as a NRA.

A survey on release processes with organisations that 'sef-identify' as folowing agile practises.