A retrospective is held at the end of an iteration. The Scrum Master will invite all members of the team (Product Owner, developers, QA etc) to a meeting to dicuss the successes and failures of the sprint.
Each member will discuss what went well and what did not go well in the Sprint that they have just undertaken. These are then discussed by the team and any measures to make improvements on the failings of the sprint are discussed. It is planned that the improvements will be implimented to make the sprint run smoother next time.
One main fear of mine is that Team members will see a retrospective as a negative thing. A meeting that only the negatives are drawn and a place where people can vent their frustrations and blame onto other Team members. This is not the case, the retrospective should be treated as a positive thing that will help the team by not only recognising the good areas within the team, but will aim to improve the negative areas rather than dwell on them.
I read an interesting article below which is based here:Retrospective Prime Directive
“One of the most obvious fears people have when first trying a retrospective is that the ritual will become a negative gripe session, interspersed with blame and counter blame.
Clearly such an event will not contribute to much learning.
The key to a constructive successful ritual is assuring that all the participants adhere to the Retrospective Prime Directive.
The Prime Directive says: Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job that they could given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resource available and the situation at hand.
At the end of a project everyone knows so much more. Naturally we will discover decisions and actions we wish we could do over. This is wisdom to be celebrated, not judgement used to embarrass.”
The Retrospective Prime Directive is a good guide to follow. Working as part of a team means that you must trust and believe in your team mates abilities and that they will always give 100% to you and the work that they carry out. It is not fair to single out one member of the team to criticise and embarrass but try to think of ways to improve the team as a whole whether that be through reviewing actions and decisions we know we will be able to improve on should the same scenario arise again. This will make you stronger and more effective as a team.