How To: Sprint Retrospective

If you have not read Agile Retrospectives, by Esther Derby & Diana Larsen, Stop now and go read it!

If you are a creative person, you are going to love Retrospectives!  If you are a creative person in an organization that does not let anyone have fun in Retrospectives, you have my permission to quit your job.

Retrospectives are fun!  You should take time during the Retro to celebrate what you accomplished in the previous Sprint, as well as look back at what didn’t go as planned, in order to fix it.  But, definitely have fun!

Since you have no doubt read the Agile Retrospectives book, mentioned above, you already know that planning a Sprint Retrospective is not trivial and should not be left to the last minute.  As a Retro facilitator, you should be paying attention throughout the Sprint, so you can select a format which will suit what was going  on during the Sprint, and draw out some great interaction between the Scrum Team members.

Some important points from the book:

  • Take at least as much time to plan the Retro, as you plan to spend IN the Retro
  • Make sure the Retro is held in a safe environment
  • Make sure everything possible is captured in some way (if you are writing the whole time, this may not be a great thing)
  • Make the Retro interesting and fun
  • Bring Sprint data of all kinds to the Retro
  • Facilitate without participating
  • Make a plan for change (don’t just record action items)

Some tips:

  • Schedule more time for the Retro than you think you will need – at least 75 mins, not more than 3 hours
  • Do not skip the Retro – ever!
  • Take the plan for change and put it on the next Sprint’s backlog
  • Only allow the Scrum Team members in the Retro – no management!
  • Protect the team by protecting what was said during the Retro.  One slip up may cost you the trust of the team!
  • Allow everyone on the team a chance to facilitate at least one Retro
  • Try doing an off-site Retro – see how it goes. Some teams go to bars.  Others go to nearby parks.