Retrospective meetings are the heart of agile methodologies. Scrum teams follow this religiously at the end of each iteration.
When a team starts practicing Agile methodology, how should they conduct the retrospectives, what should they cover during their first retrospectives ?
Here are my thoughts
1. Take the help from an agile coach if you are doing the retrospective for the first time
2. Do the +/Delta analysis for the time already spent on the project in the past i.e. cleanse the past !. This session might take anywhere between couple of hours to a day, depending on how large the past is. Let the team select important times lines from the past(release dates, company meetings, customer visit presentations during project kickoff,etc) and create +/D for those events. At the end of retrospective, the information can be merged together.
3. Let the participants spend some time on thinking about the past events before attending the retrospective meetings. Let them have a brief summary of things that went well, and didn't go well and things to improve. This would save some "thinking" time during retrospective sessions.
4. If the managers are coming from command and control background, it would be better to do a separate retrospective for managers and development team. Read Diana Larsen's book on Agile retrospective for further information.