Is October too early to talk about end-of-the-year product retrospectives (aka post mortems)? It’s always good to do regular retrospectives and to do a truly beneficial one at the end of year you will need to prep. Take a look at these resources that explain product retrospectives and provide suggestions for holding them at year-end. You may find that October is not too early to start looking back in order to think ahead.
Retrospectives. As a product manager, you aren’t just responsible for shipping a product. You’re also responsible for building the engine that builds great products – you build processes, good practices, and cultures around what makes a good product. One of the more valuable tools for accomplishing that is the retrospective. It enables you to identify what’s good, what’s bad, and iterate towards better and better products and processes. Clement Kao defines what a retrospective is, how to conduct one, and how to apply it to various aspects of product management.
Why we need a product retrospective. Any self-respecting product team does retrospectives on a regular basis. These retrospectives provide a great opportunity to reflect on past releases, strengthen team dynamics and identify any areas which could be improved. Marc Abraham has found product retrospectives to be a lot less common. Marc describes “product retrospectives” as a regular opportunity for a team to reflect on the product or service. This is explicitly not about the team or process improvements, it’s all about the product.
Rethinking the product post-mortem. Post-Mortems have gotten a bad rap – the name certainly doesn’t help, so let’s call it a retrospective. The act of bringing the team together to talk about what worked and what didn’t as you developed your product can be a powerful learning opportunity to impact your work on future products. Gina Boedeker offers some tips and good practices for getting the most out of these meetings.
How to run a year-end summary’ retrospective meeting. The end of the year is a good time for your organization to publish a summary of your achievements for the last year, review your financial results, and analyze your strategic plans. It’s also good for your team to take a few minutes to reflect on last year’s processes, successes, and main challenges. Take a look at Łukasz Krzyżek’s suggestions for an end of the year retrospective for your product team to get some ideas on how you can look back to move forward.
Designing an end-of-year meeting for a design team. When the end of the year rolls around, Teresa Man puts together a year-end retrospective package for every member of her design team to fill out prior to their final 1:1 meeting of the year. The package serves as a framework of discussion points surrounding each designer’s individual growth and contributions in the past year. Teresa describes each page of the package and provides a white-labeled version. Take a look at the package to get some inspiration for some of the things you may discuss with your product team, or if you’re a product leader, with your product managers.