The goal of a product retrospective is to get better at building product. It is not to place blame or single out people. Managers should handle individual issues…individually. They should be a forum for engaging everyone in a solution to get better over time. The faster we acknowledge our mistakes and successes the faster we will re-incorporate them into our business and the more agile we become. Hard conversations are…well…hard, but they get easier the more we are willing to have them.
Questions a good product retrospective answers:
- Were our assumptions about product/market fit correct?
- What happened in the market that led us to build?
- What is happening now in the market?
- What worked in the business process?
- What didn’t work in the business process?
- What worked in the development process?
- What didn’t work in the development process?
- How was our scope? Were we accurate in our estimations?
- How have we done at supporting the product?
- What do customers think about the product?
- How can we improve on every single one of these bullets?
In order for us to answer those questions different teams need to prepare for the retrospective.
Product management needs to prepare:
- Who is using the product and their MRR
- Key usage metrics
- Comments from customers about use of the product
- Compare those against the assumptions in any kickoff decks/documents
- Revised competitive matrix (focused only on the product in retrospective) along with any new competitive intel
Engineering needs to prepare:
- A review of the estimates made on the build
- How many hours it actually took to build (including defects)
- A review of the quality of user stories and communication during the build
CX needs to prepare:
- How we have been supporting the product
- What kinds of issues are arising with the product
- How well they were prepared to support the product
Marketing needs to prepare:
- What kind of lead flow and direct market feedback we are generating from the product
- What kind of PR we have created from the product
Product to lead the meeting, but each team should present first, then open for discussions after each section.
Each section should include the questions:
- What did we do right? What worked?
- What did we mis-judge?
- What will we do better next time?
A summary of the meeting should be sent around post meeting with a focus on each of those bullet points. Once we make it through a round of these we should begin feeding the “what will we do better" as a piece of future retrospectives (Did we actually do this better?)