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Conducting a Sprint Retrospective

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During a Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Master facilitates an hour-long session as the Scrum Team reviews their previous sprint’s activities and processes (e.g. milestones, dependencies, etc.) in an effort to continuously improve and address potential risks or concerns for the upcoming iteration.

The Sprint Retrospective is not intended to be a gripe session, but an opportunity for the Scrum Team to “inspect and adapt” their work with open, honest, and constructive feedback. This is why all other invitees - including the Product Owner and / or management - should only attend the retrospective at the discretion of the Scrum Team.

Inspect

The Scrum Team should gather information / data based on facts (i.e. impersonal, impartial) and use the retrospective to generate relevant insights (i.e. ideas, actionable commitments, etc). While the Scrum Master may use a variety of exercises or phrasing, the overall goal is for the Team to explore:

  • What went well during the sprint cycle?
  • What went wrong during the sprint cycle?
  • What could we do differently to improve?

Or focus on the processes or behaviors that the Team should:

  • Stop (cease)
  • Start (add)
  • Continue (emphasize)

in order to continuously improve. Following a respectful, introspective discussion (i.e. “conversations over accusations”), the Scrum Team prioritizes and determines the idea or action item(s), within the Team’s control, to be implemented. The item should be assigned to a team member with a specific timeline to accomplish (ideally in the upcoming sprint). During future retrospectives, the Scrum Team should revisit the remaining items and check-in on the status of those in progress.

Adapt

Remember, the retrospective is an opportunity to continuously improve and evolve. The Scrum Team should reflect on their process and agree upon a way of working, collectively find ways to improve productivity and reach goals, and determine / review the Definition of Done so they can continue building upon the Team’s sense of ownership and its self-management.

Good Reads

These are good references for conducting a Sprint Retrospective: