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Practice overview

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The Timeline Retrospective is a useful way to look back at key events over multiple sprints or months, identify pain points, and develop action plans. This retrospective is typically not used by a single team over a sprint. It can be used by multiple teams that have worked together on a product. It is particularly helpful when understanding cause/effect relationships over extended periods of time.

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Prepare for the Timeline Retrospective

This Guide shows you how to run a timeline retrospective, a practice that is particularly useful for multi-team multi-sprint retrospectives. Running a timeline retrospective typically takes 90 minutes to four hours.

tag Retro
tag Retrospective

Steps

1

Create an agenda on easel pad paper

Create an agenda for the meeting and write it on easel pad paper.

A typical agenda is:

  • Introductions
  • Retrospective Key Ideas
    • Prime Directive
    • Positive Bias
    • Synchronization
  • Timeline
  • Action Items

Image of agenda: Timeline Retrospective - Agenda

2

Put the Retrospective Prime Directive on easel pad paper

Review Norm Kerth’s retrospective prime directive: “Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand."

Copy the prime directive to easel pad paper so you can review it with the group.

Timeline Retrospective - Prime directive

3

Put a summary of positive bias on easel pad paper

Put an invitation to maintain a positive bias on easel pad paper. I like to use the three characteristics that Richard Kasperowski discusses:

  • Non-negativity
  • No negation
  • Pretend

Timeline Retrospective - Positive bias

4

Put an example timeline on easel pad paper

Sketch a simple timeline with time on the X axis on easel pad paper.

Timeline Retrospective - Timeline example

5

Gather materials

Gather needed materials:

  • Sharpies
  • Easel pad markers
  • At least three sizes of stickies
6

Prepare and practice your patter

Prepare and practice your patter. Go through the agenda at least three times and make sure that you know how to explain each item in the agenda.