GSA Tech Guides
All guides » Agile guides
Conducting a Sprint Retrospective
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.
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.
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.
These are good references for conducting a Sprint Retrospective:
- 5 Steps To Better Agile Retrospectives
- A Simple Way to Run a Sprint Retrospective
- Atlassian Playbook: Retrospectives
- Do’s and Don’ts: How to Conduct Effective Retrospectives
- Effective Sprint Retrospectives
- Key Elements of a Successful Agile Retrospective: Preparation and Participation
- Scrum Inc: Sprint Retrospective
- Sprint Retrospective
- The Product Owner in a Sprint Retrospective
- Valuable Agile Retrospectives: How to Do Them?
- Why Agile Teams Need to Know How to Inspect and Adapt