The Rocket retrospective is a 15 minutes (strictly timeboxed) retrospective which defines concrete follow-up actions for each of its participants. Being short, engaging and result-oriented it boost up the self-actualizing/self-discovering capabilities of the team to a new level within an affordable cost (much lower than alternative retrospectives as the Start-stop-continue retrospective, Starfish retrospective, Speed boat retrospective, Timeline retrospective, etc.). Also it effectively addresses the Parkinson’s law and Hofstadter’s law while conducting retrospectives. I found it to be very beneficial when it is conducted on a weekly basis (as things are kept short and simple).

Strictly timeboxed to 15 minutes.

Notes and pens.

Set the stage
The participants should be familiar with the format of the rocket retrospective. They should also understand that it requires focus and discipline in order to meet its strict time constraints.

Appreciate (5 mins)
The completeness of the follow-up actions from the previous retrospective (written on notes) are briefly presented and appreciation is given. If they are still in progress, the reasons for that might be provided. However no detailed explanations are allowed – if somebody is interested, a discussion might be held after the
retrospective. Also It is up to the owner to decide whether the follow-up actions would be discontinued or not. In the latter case, the owner does not take active part in the next two phases of the retrospective (thus becoming an observer).

Gather data (5 mins)
Each participant anonymously writes on a note one thing that should be: (1) introduced/reinforced; or (2) withhold/discouraged within the team, process, project, etc. Sufficient (but not thorough) details are provided (e.g. what is the concrete issue, what is the side effect of it and what would be the benefit from resolving it). Once this is done, the note should be placed in the middle of the table on its back (so what is written is not visible to others). Once all participants are ready, the notes are shuffled.

Take ownership and decide what to do (5 mins)
Each participant picks up one of the notes in the middle of the table and becomes its owner. Then at least one follow-up action is written on the back of the note (it could be something very minor/simple as writing an email, making some small research, etc.). Once all participants are ready, they briefly present their notes (issues & follow-up actions). If there are duplicates, the ownership and follow-up actions are shared between the involved parties. Also participants are allowed (although not recommended) to exchange notes (e.g. due to the seniority level, required by some of the follow-up actions).

Notes are kept for reference. They could be taken by their owners (e.g. on their desks) or put on a whiteboard (so they are visible to everybody). However they should be brought back on the next retrospective so appreciation could be given.

Original article:

3 thoughts on “The Rocket Retrospective

  1. This was very well received. Encourages cross-skill/discipline participation, and pulls the team in to work cooperatively on issues that *other* people might consider important. Good lesson in selflessness. Took longer than the 15 minutes, but the presentation comments/discussion was very productive.

  2. This is similar to what I do with my teams but I feel 15 minutes duration for the weeks long sprint is not very appropriate. While sticking to the time box we might even defeat the purpose of having a retrospective meeting.

Comments are closed.