Setting the context at the beginning of any meeting is the first step you can take to ensure that the meeting is effective. Participants need to understand what is the focus for the meeting.
You either start the meeting with a context well defined and share it with the team, or you define it real time with the participants (“So, what is the context for this retrospective?”).
Below are some sample contexts:
“This retrospective is a bi-weekly recurring Scrum retrospective for the ABC team. We are on the Sprint 12 out of 30.”
“In 14 days, our artifact should reach the main production stage.”
“Feature XYZ exploded in production, bringing the servers down for 2 hours until sys-admin could bring the older version back up.”
“This team will work together in a new project starting today.”
“We have worked together on the past year. We will be working together for another year to come.”
“This diverse group of people has participated on the BIZANK event. Most likely another group of people from our company will participate on similar future events. What should we share with them?”
“We delivered the planned features on schedule. Let’s discuss what were the factors that helped us to be successful.”
By setting the context, you are not only aligning the participants towards a common goal. You are also narrowing down the discussion for the steps that will follow.