Retrospective is one of the core concepts of agile methodologies and often one of the most neglected one not from the ritual perspective but from the effectiveness perspective and especially for distributed teams.
Retrospectives in agile is intended to help the team to reflect on the previous sprint and bring improvement to the upcoming sprint based on the wisdom generated from experiences.
Collaborative brainstorming or we can call it Hackathon could be one of the ways to generate improvement ideas/solutions for problem faced by large agile teams either collocated or distributed. It would utilize the knowledge and ideas of members across team and across locations.
This can bring innovative solutions to the table as team members from different locations, would bring diverse perspective to the issues based on their experiences and background
This would demand collaborative tools and good infrastructure for the teams to come together on a virtual platform.
Topics that need to be discussed could be released couple of days before with sufficient background about the problem for the teams to start thinking about ideas and it will give sufficient background to non-collocated teams about the problem topics. Hackathon could be limited from dedicated few hours to couple of days depending upon the team size. This process could be repeated in a frequent basis.
This is also help to increase the binding between teams and help to build the trust for members located in distributed locations.
It’s vital to create the culture of innovation so more members participate in such events, where the company is receptive to ideas from the team and implements them.