What is the Sprint Retrospective?

Sprint Retrospective is a time for Scrum Teams to reflect on everything that happend in the Sprint and identify opportunities to improve.

Sprint Retrospective is a time for teams to reflect on opportunities to improve. The event is dedicated to discussing overall workflow enhancements including individuals, interactions, processes and tools. The general idea is to have these kinds of discussions to help the team take learnings and implement improvements to make each Sprint more streamlined and successful than the last. 

The Sprint Retrospective is the last thing to do in a Sprint. Most teams hold it immediately after the Sprint Review and in doing so, helps prepare for the next Sprint. It is therefore a recurring meeting, so it’s useful to make the most out of this time.

Who attends the meeting?

The entire Scrum Team, including the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the Developers should attend. Collectively, the team has a wide range of valuable perspectives for identifying process improvements from their different points of view. 

The Scrum Master is in charge of facilitating the meeting and encouraging the team of Developers to improve practices within the Scrum process framework. Scrum Masters are responsible to support and coach the team on the Scrum method, and should, therefore, use this opportunity to highlight if the team is not adhering to the method. 

Stakeholders should not attend Scrum Retrospective unless they are specifically invited. They may participate in the Sprint Review meeting instead.

What should be included in Scrum Retrospective?

Teams may run the Scrum Retrospective in different ways, but a popular method is “stop”, “start”, and “continue”. This is a simple approach to running the meeting and relies on each team member to identify specific things that the team should:

  • Start doing 
  • Stop doing 
  • Continue doing

There are many ways this simple framework can be adapted to suit the team. 

It might also be useful to think of more specific questions for the team to answer. Some useful questions might include:

  • What went well during the Sprint? Success in an iteration can be analysed by determining what was done differently to achieve it. For example, who contributed to it and how, and what skills, training or knowledge helped. 
  • What didn’t go well during the Sprint? Looking at what didn’t go according to plan with a view to improve performance in the future. 
  • What were the main learnings during the Sprint? This involves looking at what the team learnt during the Sprint so they can continue to improve their way of working. 
  • What should we do differently during the next Sprint? This will help prevent the same mistakes from occurring, thus taking corrective action. 

Each of these questions may act as a starting point to help drill down further and gain more information. The Scrum Master should encourage the rest of the Scrum Team to answer questions and improve the process and practices to make it more effective for the next Sprint. 

Additionally, during each Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team plans ways to increase product quality by improving work processes or adapting the “Definition of Done” if appropriate and not in conflict with product or organisational standards.

Especially important is that the Sprint Retrospective ends with a few concrete initiatives that the team will act on in the coming sprint. Practically this is initiated by adding tasks in the next Sprint Planning meeting that will complete these initiatives.

What is the length of the meeting?

The length of the Retrospective might depend on several factors such as how many team members there were in the Sprint. However, the meeting is generally timeboxed to a maximum of three hours for a one-month Sprint. As expected, if the Sprint is shorter than a month, the event is usually shorter to suit.

Summary of Sprint Retrospective

The Sprint Retrospective meeting is an important tool to help Scrum teams increase quality and effectiveness. Asking the right questions allows the team to think, thus providing ownership to each team member and making it truly Agile.

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