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Retrospective time is the perception of time associated with reflecting on past events. Unlike prospective time oriented towards the future, retrospective time involves our memory and evaluation of occurrences in hindsight. Retrospective time is a key concept in the psychology of time perception and an important concept when you dealing with decisions in highly changing markets. (Enterprise Agility University)

Research shows we tend to perceive time as moving more quickly when looking back on previous events compared to when they were actually happening. For instance, the weeks and months leading up to a milestone event often feel elongated. However, in retrospective reflection, that elapsed duration contracts in perception.

This tendency for retrospective time compression has implications in navigating accelerated change. With business transformations and market disruptions happening so rapidly, companies risk losing touch with recent strategic outcomes. The frenetic pace of exponential change overwhelms attempts to process learnings and feedback.

That is why Enterprise Agility emphasizes regularly scheduled retrospective activities not tied to any one project or initiative. Groups reflect on outcomes, achievements, and setbacks over the recent past without limitation of scope. This prevents the retrospective time horizon from compressing so severely that institutional learning is inhibited.

Models like the A5 Canvas in Enterprise Agility also incorporate retrospective time perception. By formally analyzing wins, losses and surprises or disruptions—both within isolated initiatives and collectively as a company—participants counteract the human reflex to recall elapsed time as condensed.

In times of accelerated change, retrospective reflection supported by AI must become an ingrained habit to avoid recency bias. The past often presages the future when change is exponential, not linear. By countering the natural psychological tendency to compress retrospective time perception, Enterprise Agility helps organizations extract strategic insights before they vanish from view.

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