Balance between Introspection & Retrospection

A key factor for improved project performance


by Eng. Abeer Al Nuaimi

Abu Dhabi, UAE


The importance of delivering effective projects is a lifelong challenge faced by the project manager and his team. The key to deliver successful projects in a sustainable manner is learning the lessons from past and applying them in future. When it comes to implementation, lessons learnt process is easier said than done. The most mature project teams face challenges when applying lessons learnt. Two of the keys in the arsenal that the project manager and his team can use are introspection and retrospection. As we all know retrospection has been in use in agile environments in learning from the past. In this article let us explore the differences between introspection and retrospection and why a fine balance is required in applying both techniques to improve project performance.

Why are introspection and retrospection important to improve the lessons learnt process?

Working on projects with multiple constraints like time, cost, scope, quality and various other constraints keeps the team on the edge most of the time. It is very common for the team to get stuck in a repetitive cycle and keep doing the same things everyday which may not be producing the right results. The definition for insanity would be “do the same things and expect different results”! The key to project success is to develop commitment among the team members in what they do. Introspection and retrospection are great tools which can empower the team members to learn, apply and improve from their past experiences and projects and create a better future. Now let us explore some differences and characteristics between the two methods.

Some Key difference and Characteristics of Introspection and Retrospection

Both Introspection and retrospection refer to two different processes that should be done consciously by the team.

The focus while doing Introspection: The team member has to look at his feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

The focus while doing Retrospection: The team member looks at past events.

Examination and Analysis:

Introspection: In introspection, self-examination and self-analysis is important.

Retrospection: It is usually limited to a mere recollection of events


Introspection: In introspection, the focus is in the present.

Retrospection: In retrospection, the focus is in the past.

Now let us elaborate further on the above -Retrospection is to look at one’s past actions and deeds. It is to reflect on something already done and examine one’s actions carefully and deduce conclusions based on the observation. One can say that retrospection is a subset of introspection as one’s past shapes one’s future. Usually it is done at the end of each phase or iteration in projects.

During the retrospective, the team reflects on what happened in the iteration and identifies actions for improvement going forward. Each member of the team members answers the following questions:


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About the Author

Eng. Abeer Al Nuaimi

United Arab Emirates


Abeer Al Nuaimi
has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Master’s Degree in Engineering Management. She is a Professional Certified International Consultant in Project Management and International Certified Consultant in Training.   She is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt, and holds International Certificates in Leadership Skills and Strategic Planning. A Professional Certified Trainer (PCT), she is also an EFQM Certified Assessor. She lives and works in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and can be contacted at [email protected]