Taking time out to pause and reflect on progress is a powerful practice for any team, and team retrospectives are a great way of formalizing this process. In this article, we’ll explore one popular retrospective called FLAP, and discover what it means, how to run it, and how it can help get your team more motivated, aligned, and effective.
A FLAP Retrospective is a structured team meeting that focuses on four essential elements:
- Future considerations: This element involves looking ahead to the team's future goals and projects. By considering the future, teams can align their efforts and make proactive plans to achieve their desired outcomes.
- Lessons learned: During this part of the retrospective, the team takes time to reflect on past experiences, both positive and negative. The goal is to capture these lessons and use them to guide decision-making and enhance future performance.
- Accomplishments: This element focuses on recognizing and celebrating the team's achievements and successes during the previous period. Celebrating accomplishments reinforces team cohesion and boosts morale.
- Problem areas: This is an opportunity for the team to engage in open discussions regarding challenges, obstacles, or issues that emerged in the previous period. Addressing problem areas collectively helps the team learn from mistakes and enhance its overall effectiveness.
Benefits of a FLAP retrospective
But why should you consider using FLAP for your retrospectives, in the first place? Here are some benefits that make it a valuable tool for achieving long-term success:
- This structured approach of a FLAP Retrospective offers a well-rounded insight into team dynamics. By focusing on future goals, past lessons, recent achievements, and existing challenges, teams can better strategize for upcoming projects, making each retrospective a crucial tool for long-term planning.
- Discussing accomplishments openly fosters a culture of positive reinforcement. This not only lifts morale but also strengthens team unity, creating a supportive work environment where everyone is motivated to contribute their best.
- Concentrating on lessons learned and problem areas encourages a culture of ongoing growth. By analyzing previous experiences, the team refines its abilities in communication and problem-solving, strengthening resilience and adaptability.
- Directly addressing mistakes reduces the likelihood of repeating them. This focused review enhances overall productivity, as teams that learn from their errors are more efficient and aligned with the organization's goals.
FLAP retrospective templates
How to prepare for a FLAP retrospective meeting
Set the agenda
Before the meeting starts, make sure everyone understands what FLAP stands for—future considerations, lessons learned, accomplishments, and problem areas. Clarify the goals of the meeting, such as identifying actionable improvements or celebrating wins. You might want to send out an agenda in advance to give team members a chance to prepare their thoughts.
Data offers an objective lens through which you can analyze team performance. Gather information on relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), like project completion rates or bug counts. Also, collect insights on roadblocks the team faced and achievements worth celebrating. Use automated dashboards or team surveys to streamline this process.
Pick a facilitator
The role of the facilitator is crucial for the meeting's effectiveness. This person should be neutral, perhaps someone not directly involved in the project under review. Their task is to guide the conversation, keep the meeting on track, and ensure everyone's voice is heard. Brief them on the FLAP methodology ahead of time to make sure they're well-prepared.
Regardless of whether you're meeting in person or virtually, having the right tools in place is essential. This could be as simple as a whiteboard and markers for an in-person meeting, or you could leverage Craft's collaboration features for remote teams as a specialized retrospective software. Craft allows real-time collaboration, making it easy to gather insights, allocate action items, and keep track of discussions. Make sure whatever tools you use are set up in advance and are user-friendly to avoid any hiccups during the meeting.
By taking the time to properly prepare for your FLAP Retrospective meeting using these steps, you're setting your team up for a productive, insightful, and hopefully, action-oriented discussion.
How to run a FLAP retrospective
Ready to get started? Here's how:
1. Introduction: Kick off the meeting by revisiting the FLAP elements and briefly outline what each letter in FLAP stands for. Use this time to also set the tone and clarify the objectives of the meeting, so everyone starts with a shared understanding.
2. Open discussion: Start with 'future considerations' and work your way through each remaining element. Make sure to allocate a specific amount of time for each section to keep the meeting on track and ensure all topics get adequate attention.
3. Actionable takeaways: At the end of each discussion point, ensure that you conclude with actionable steps that are specific, measurable, and time-bound. Assign each action item to a team member, setting a due date for completion to ensure accountability and follow-through.
4. Close the loop: Finally, wrap up the meeting by summarizing the key takeaways and outlining the next steps. This not only offers closure but also gives team members clear directives moving forward. It’s a good practice to document these points, perhaps in a shared document, for future reference and as groundwork for the next retrospective.
Common challenges and how to solve them
Lack of engagement:
This often happens if team members don’t feel comfortable enough to speak up or share their views openly. This can be due to a variety of reasons such as a fear of judgment, lack of familiarity with the topic, or simply not knowing how to articulate their thoughts.
Solution: Encourage participation by using various techniques such as:
- Pair/ group work: Dividing into smaller groups makes it easier for individuals to speak up, creating an environment that's less intimidating and more conducive to open discussion.
- Anonymous feedback bowl: An anonymous suggestion bowl allows team members to voice their thoughts without fear of judgment, which the facilitator can later share for group discussion.
- Opportunity for each to speak: Giving each team member designated time to speak ensures that all voices are heard, helping to bring forth varied perspectives and insights.
Each of these techniques serves to create a safe and inclusive environment where team members are more inclined to engage actively in the retrospective.
Failure to follow through:
Action items may be forgotten or not followed up after the retrospective. When tasks are forgotten or overlooked, the entire exercise loses its impact.
Solution: Appoint a team member to be responsible for tracking progress on action items, send reminders, and report back to the team at regular intervals to ensure that everyone is held accountable.
Resistant to change:
Team members may resist implementing changes discussed in the retrospective, if not everyone is on board.
Solution: Building a culture of continuous improvement is key here. Make sure to articulate the benefits of the proposed changes clearly and involve everyone in the decision-making process. Creating a sense of collective ownership can help in reducing resistance and encourage active participation.
In conclusion, the FLAP Retrospective is a valuable methodology for running effective retrospective meetings. By following the outlined steps and addressing common challenges, teams can harness the benefits of reflection, learning, celebration, and problem-solving to boost their performance and success. Embrace the advantages a FLAP Retrospective offer's your team and give this approach a try in your next team meeting. It's a proven method to reflect, learn, and improve collaboratively.