Delving Into The Remember The Future Retrospective

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Oct 12, 2021
Updated on
May 23, 2022
Table of Content

Remember the Future might sound like a misnomer, or some type of strange dichotomy, but it’s actually a popular retrospective format that can help energize your team and drive you towards your development goals!

Remember the Future Retrospective: What is It? 

This goal-based, imaginative agile retrospective format sets the roadmap for the future by focusing on anticipatory precautions. The remember the future retrospective begins with the question: "If our team is at the end of the next iteration, and it's gone perfectly... what helped us and what did we have to overcome?"

This thinking allows the team to assess potential outcomes, not only from point A (how things currently work), but also from point B (where they’d like to be). Additionally, the team will work to predict possible challenges and possible motivators. The format uses a vision board and works backward to ensure goals are attainable. Plus, preparation is key!

When Can Remember the Future be Used?

Remember the future retrospective should be used right after a completed sprint/iteration, and right before a new one. This is the best time to reflect on what's been working and what hasn't so the team can project how some of those aspects may influence the future. Lines can be drawn directly from past actions to completed current results, and by assuming they'll do the same in the future, these lines can be eliminated, improved, or kept.

How to Execute This Retrospective Format

The best part of this format is getting the team together, either physically or virtually, and dreaming up the ideal scenario– the perfect future! 

  1. Setting Timelines: Team leaders will draw a timeline from the team’s current position, to their ideal future. They will take five minutes to explain the rules of the exercise to their dev team, and then answer any questions team members may have. 
  1. The Present: The team will brainstorm together to find their major roadblocks, and will add these notes to the remember the future retrospective board. This step should also take about five minutes.
  1. Drawing a Roadmap: Then, the team will take twenty minutes to try to imagine the necessary next steps to reach their ideal future. By creating SMART goals, team members can have actionable ways of driving positive change for the entire organization! 
Remember the Future Retrospective Board
Remember The Future Retrospective Template

How to Run A Remember the Future Retrospective In GoRetro

GoRetro’s online retro boards allow teams to discuss topics in an organized and visual way. With so many agile retrospective templates, almost any retrospective is possible using these online guides. 

Plus, GoRetro stores all your meetings so they can be revisited and adapted at any time. Choose your favorite formats, refine your team’s workflow, and enjoy a nice productivity boost on the other side! 

Users log in and join a chosen dashboard being led by their Scrum Master, where they can participate in group threads, vote/like comments, suggest ideas, draw visual cues, and make actionable tasks once goals are realized. Trade the boardroom in for a collaborative online platform like GoRetro– 90% of workers feel they work equally as well from home and online, if not better, anyway! 

Who Is this Agile Retrospective for?

Remember the future retrospective is for anyone who will be present in multiple consecutive sprints. It's for those who are invested in the successes of the future and the goals of the team. 

It's specifically best suited for visionaries and idealists who are able to imagine a world beyond their current reality, while also applying realistic timelines and processes to these goals. 

Every member of the team needs to be present for this retrospective (and prospective) for it to be productive, since all members carry their own useful perspectives and experiences. Everyone's feedback on the items that have and haven’t been working will be essential contributions to the plan moving forward.

Other relevant voices to include may be the Scrum Master, your clients, and your business partners.

Why Is “Remember the Future” Effective?

This agile format is well suited for visionaries. Everyone's learning style is different, so some teams may respond better to different retrospectives, but this one is abstract and exciting!

Analyzing details of what an ideal future may look like will help your team to address their goals more specifically. It will help them decide exactly what actionable tasks will lead to a manifestation of the most positive results. In doing so, potential roadblocks may also become 'visible'. 

While it's important to reflect on things in order to gain hindsight perspective, we'd argue that it's equally as important that you consider growth and expansion. Teams must work to move forward, and attempt to predict possible outcomes in order to create actionable plans with the ability to propel them towards their goals. 

The imagination is an incredibly important muscle to exercise, especially in development fields. GoRetro can help put all these abstract ideas into concrete and organized imagery, while hosting interactive feedback discussions - all in one place!

Check that out more here!

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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