KALM Retros 101
As scrum masters and project managers, it can be easy to lose yourself in the agile workflows and not evaluate what aspects of the process could use some change. This is where retrospective meetings provide insight into what worked for them and what didn’t.
These meetings fall between two-week sprints. They can be incorporated into any workflow and provide valuable insight that aids future sprints. This meeting format can be applied to campaigns, large presentations, and multiple other facets of the ongoing project.
As more teams go fully remote, retros are as important as ever. A lot of details that lay in the nitty-gritty of the sprint and impact various aspects of the project timeline, often get more pronounced when teams are working remotely.
One such model for an introspective meeting is the KALM model. Due to the nature of this meeting, it is important that all stakeholders in the project, from the designers to the Scrum Master, are kept in the loop. This mileage may also vary for teams that work in different time zones.
KALM Retro Basics
KALM stands for keep, add, less and more. Each forms a column to collect items for discussion in the retrospective.
KALM stands for:
Keep is for the elements that are valuable and that the team wants to continue in the next sprint. [example?]
Add refers to new things the team would like to start doing or using in the upcoming sprint. This could be a new tool or a new communication strategy to help the team reach their goals faster.
Less is the column to call out irritants and blockers that inhibit the team in various areas and to agree to reduce these in the next sprint.
More allows the team members to increase elements they found valuable and that increase productivity.
You can set up a KALM retro in person or remotely on a retro app like RetroTeam [Link]. Participants add and sort their contributions as cards on the corresponding sections of the platform. Depending on how much you need to discuss, set the time limit for the meeting between 30 minutes and an hour, but not longer. Designate a facilitator such as a scrum master or project manager to moderate.
Start by collecting cards from participants. You can set anonymous authors or public, depending on your team’s preferences. Anonymity might make participants feel safer to express their concerns while public cards maintain a sense of transparency and team cohesion.
Next, rank discussion items for relevance. It isn’t enough to simply gather items but also rank them based on how important they are to the team. It’s also helpful to recap some highlights of the previous sprint to refresh the team’s memories before they start providing feedback.
When discussing the pointers in any given meeting, some criteria are effective for validating them. For example, a team may choose to only adopt an idea after seeing its effect on the end-users. Ideas may only advance to the discussion stage if they are less technically difficult than the best alternative.
Once you’ve all agreed on action items, it’s simple to create actionable solutions. It is advised to spend some time after the meetings to reiterate the actionable plans and turn them into planned tasks for individual team members. When doing this, one must avoid the same roadblocks, and instead, incorporate feedback to make sure that the same cycles of frustration do not continue.
Pros and Cons
Due to how convenient the four sections are, the documentation process for the KALM retrospective sprints is relatively easy. With a retrospective app, documentation is easily accessible, since you can export after the retro and share your findings and decisions with the team or supervisors. Documentation can be shared easily through the application. It can even reduce repetition across different retrospective sessions throughout the quarters, ensuring that everyone is aligned.
The team is given ample time to introspect and evolve their working process, so the organization can move ahead faster than it usually would, resulting in better yields for prospects. Compared to other feedback loops, and meetings, the agenda-oriented KALM retrospective sprint makes it easy to align the needs of the entire team with the future company goals. The organized format also ensures that little to no time is wasted by team members speaking over each other or inquiring about an already discussed topic.
During high-stress cycles of work, depending on the project, the KALM retrospective sprint provides an equalizer for work balance while overlooking the performance of the team. Documenting the wins alongside areas that need improvement, increases team morale and motivates them to continue working.
However, if you fail to keep the meetings engaging and on-topic, team members can grow apathetic and do not contribute as much. As the scrum masters, your job is to ensure that the meetings don’t become emotion-driven and that they stay insightful. After all, mismanaged retrospective sprints mean that the team is missing out on opportunities to grow. Ultimately, the retrospective should be an experience that energizes the team and focuses on solutions for the upcoming sprint as well as the entire project.
All things considered, especially if you are a product manager or scrum master of a remote agile team, KALM retrospective sprints are a great opportunity for your team to evaluate areas for improvement and collaborate together to provide valuable feedback. This type of meeting is a great way to gain valuable insights on the team and their end-users through joint efforts. The only drawback is a missed growth opportunity. Feedback about the meetings themselves can also be collected at the end of each recurring session, to ensure smooth running in the future