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Sprint Retrospective

On the last day of the Sprint, after the Sprint Review and before closing off the Sprint, the Scrum team holds the Sprint Retrospective. This is the opportunity for continuous improvement of the Scrum team.

At the Retrospective the Scrum team inspects how it works together. This is not about the work it produced (the Scrum team already inspected it, at Sprint Review together, with the stakeholders). Rather, the Retrospective is about how the team works together, what processes it uses, what team rules and behaviors to enforce, how to support team happiness. This is the opportunity to reflect on how the team members work together, and what they can do to improve as a team.

I like to use these rules to conduct a good Retrospective:

  • Identify and discuss both what went well and what could be improved: celebrate successes, and then look at how to improve
  • The Scrum Master ensures the Retrospective takes place, but no obligation to facilitate it: other team members can facilitate it (rotational basis) or another Scrum Master can do it for your team
  • Spend at least as much time planning the Retrospective as you spend doing it, to ensure you can focus the Retrospective on an important area for improvement, rather than a generic conversation
  • The Scrum Team discusses possible solutions to most vexing problems as opportunity for improvement. Just talking about problems does not help anyone. Discuss possible solutions and decide what to do to improve.
  • One or more action items are identified and placed in the Product Backlog, or even better, scheduled for the next Sprint. This is a way to make sure action takes place, and improvements don’t remain just words.
  • The facilitator frequently changes exercise or framework to run the Retrospective. Don’t make every Retrospective be the same, because, let’s be honest, how many new ideas for improvement can you really get if you always run it the same way? There are hundreds of Retrospective exercises to experiment with. For some ideas, look at Tasty Cupcakes.

Learn more about the Scrum framework with more information on specific events:


Sprint Planning

Daily Scrum

Sprint Review

Sprint Retrospective

Download the Scrum Events PDF

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