“If you adopt only one agile practice, let it be retrospectives. Everything else will follow.” This advice from Agile Consultant and Coach, Woody Zuill perfectly highlights the importance of a sprint retrospective. According to Scrum.org, “the purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness.”
If you and your team are looking to start your retrospective, even if you’re not a development team, this quick guide (which comes with a free template) has everything you need to get started and run a successful retrospective.
The main objective of a sprint retrospective is to IMPROVE so that the team keeps getting better. It asks the question: How can we do things better and faster?
A retrospective has three main parts:
Depending on your team type and size, the manager or team leader needs to discuss the PROCESS and PRACTICES that were done well and which ones could be improved. Ultimately, the meeting should end with action items to include in the next sprint or project.
You don’t have to dive right into the discussion. It’s essential to set the mood of the meeting first. How you start is limited only by your imagination and will usually depend on your management style. Some ideas to start a Sprint Retrospective Meeting:
Try to mix it up and or stick with what the team loves. The important thing is that everyone’s mood and mindset are in the right place. Spending a little more time and creativity in the beginning can improve the overall quality of the Retrospective meeting.
You run a Retrospective at the end of the Sprint. That one is pretty much straightforward. However, the question of how long and how often doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. Some teams have a four-week or two-week Sprint. The Scrum methodology recommends no more than four hours for a four-week Sprint.
You also need to use your best judgment on how often you should do it. If it’s too frequent, the team won’t have time to learn and get better. If it’s too infrequent, frustrations might build up and can affect the effectiveness of the team. Based on a Parabol survey, 62% of their users run retros more frequently than every two weeks. It’s best to understand the rhythm of your team and decide how frequent retros should be.
Now, you’re ready to start your Retrospective meeting. The good news is that we have a ready-made template for running retros that can be used for any team type and size. You’ll exactly know what to include, what to focus on, and how to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Start with an ice breaker or dive into the overview. What was done and delivered?
It’s always best to start with something positive. Celebrate the wins and make sure to highlight remarkable achievements and teammates.
This is the heart of the retro. Understand what didn’t go well and why it didn’t go well. Try to be objective in the discussion and avoid singling out or blaming one person.
After learning what didn’t go well, make sure that the team turns it into insights or conclusions. Mastering this section can help everyone process what they did and turn it into something actionable into the next sprint.
Turn insights into action. These key action items are crucial to improve the next sprint. This can also be done asynchronously after the meeting.
Running a Retrospective meeting could be fun, insightful, and actionable at the same time. It takes practice, and the team will get better in time. Using async meeting tools make it easy for everyone to manage and keep track of everything. Some parts of the retro, such as sharing the insights, can be run asynchronously, too. This makes the actual meeting shorter but better.