Personal Sprint Retrospectives
21 October 2022
Due to time zone differences, I'm not typically able to attend team sprint retrospectives on Fridays.
If you've never done a sprint, a sprint is a set amount of time to complete a specific set of tasks. For example, we work in two week sprints at RapidAPI. I believe we did the same on the Microsoft Edge team but my work was so disconnected from traditional engineering teams, I was rarely ever working in sprints.
Work can spill over into other sprints, other randomizing tasks pop up and things get re-prioritized. It happens. But overall your sprint plan sets the goals for the sprint and what tasks you'd like to ideally close out.
In a sprint retrospective you go over what went well, what could be improved and what you should do more of in the upcoming sprints. I usually look at the retrospective board that gets shared out and make note of anything relevant to me as product manager, if there's anything and start sprint planning.
Why I do my own personal sprint retrospective #
Recently, I started doing my own personal sprint retrospective on my own for work. While I can't join the team one unless I stay up until midnight, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on what I thought went well, what can be improved in my own workflow and what I should continue doing.
Doing this allows me to close out the sprint in my own way and self reflect. It also allows me to create a routine, which I'm realizing is incredibly important with the way I currently live (lots of travel).
This exercise is also helpful as my scope has grown incredibly since my time at Microsoft. I was doing developer relations work but when I would do product feature work, it was just that. A feature in the browser. Now I own 4 products and experiences and the RapidAPI design system. So this allows me to drill down on where I think I can improve from a product management perspective.
Example of my personal sprint retrospective #
It doesn't have to be super detailed or in-depth. Just observations about what worked for me, with a focus on how I'm working as a product manager.
|Do more of||Keep doing||Stop|
|Turn off notifications for better focus time||Take a walk in the morning before meetings or during ones you are just listening||Responding to every DM or Email immediately|
|Block calendar for specific project focus time||More 1:1s with engineers||Over-complicating solutions that can be simple|
|Have 1:1s Tue-Thur instead of 1st thing Monday||Update Notion after every meeting|
My focus lately has been how to maximize the use of my time, especially with meetings, because for every item I cross off my to-do list, I add 5 more.
With meetings for example, I noticed with the 1:1s I was having on Mondays, I wasn't feeling prepared or like I could fill a half an hour and realized it was because I was starting Monday with a solid block of meetings from 7:30 AM - 10:00 AM and sometimes 11:00 AM. I moved the 1:1s I was struggling with to Tuesday or Wednesday and felt a noticeable improvement in how productive the meeting went because I had more time to prepare an agenda.
There were also optional meetings I wanted to attend for learning and observation reasons and found myself declining at the last minute because they were optional. I started taking a walk to get outside and listening to those meetings instead. Any meetings where I don't have to actively participate or present, I'm now taking while I go for a walk. It's improved my mood quite a bit and I am more inclined to listen in and learn since I'm not just sat in front of my computer. It's been helpful.
The importance of routine #
This could be and probably will be an entire blog post in itself, but I'm searching for ways to keep a routine when I'm hopping around all over the place from Seattle to Berlin for work and England to spent time with Jhey. Having a personal sprint retrospective is one of those things in the routine I'm building.
A little retrospective inception in the "keep doing" table for my sprint retrospectives: personal sprint retrospectives.