Once you have a development process installed and running it pays to stop from time-to-time and take stock. How are we doing? Is the process we’re following optimal? What's working well, and what's not? Project retrospectives are a well-defined and established technique for engaging your team in these kinds of questions, leading to ongoing improvements in the efficiency of your development process.
A retrospective is an opportunity for everyone to contribute to making the current project – or sometimes future projects – more effective. Retrospectives have rules and, to use the words of leading exponent Norm Kerth, a prime directive:
Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.
In order for retrospectives to be sucessful they need to be well planned and led by an experienced facilitator.