Sprints are there to reach any development goal faster than usual, and every sprint retrospective can help the entire dev team reflect on their past findings and use the experience to move on to the next step. But what is a sprint retrospective? And how can it improve the development process?
Let’s start with the definition.
What Is A Sprint Retrospective?
A sprint retrospective is where development teams come together and discuss the best ways to increase the overall effectiveness of a product. The improvements are performed regarding the following factors:
- Target Audience
- Public interactions
- Development Processes
- Tech Stack
- Individual Definition of “Done”
Purpose of A Sprint Retrospective
The sprint retrospective meeting occurs after the current sprint review and the next sprint planning. The main purposes include:
- Examine the effectiveness of the sprint that has been completed recently
- Identify and organize the steps that went well
- Identify and organize the steps that didn’t go well
- Identify the improvements the team made over the last sprint
- Create plans to implement the improvements
Length of A Standard Sprint Retrospective
The rule of thumb for a standard sprint retrospective meeting is 45 minutes. Let’s look at a detailed table that proves this point further.
|Sprint Duration||Sprint Retrospective Duration|
|1 Week||45 Minutes|
|2 Weeks||90 Minutes|
|3 Weeks||135 Minutes|
|4 Weeks||180 Minutes|
Questions of Every Sprint Retrospective
Every Sprint retrospective meeting targets these 4 questions:
- What Went Well In The Sprint?
- What Went Wrong In The Sprint?
- What Did We Learn In The Sprint?
- What Should We Do On The Next Sprint?
1. What Went Well In The Sprint?
There are quite a few questions that you can ask to determine the successful aspects of the sprint.
- What motivated you to do it?
- Which difference from before turned it into a success?
- Which skill contributed to the difference that was made?
- Which strong point was the reason behind the improvement?
- What are the strong points of your team who made it happen?
- What is the exact contribution of a team member that helped you achieve it?
- How did you achieve it as a team?
2. What Went Wrong In The Sprint?
Like the part before, you can determine the extent of your failure by answering specific questions.
- How did the process go wrong?
- Which action of yours caused the failure?
- Are there more people responsible for the error?
- Was any of you aware that it was going to fail?
- Did you implement it in the wrong way due to a misunderstanding?
- Did you understand it right, but somehow it still went wrong?
3. What Did We Learn In The Sprint?
To understand your learnings from the current sprint, these questions can help you:
- How was the last sprint executed?
- Did you go wrong anywhere during the current sprint?
- If it did go wrong, where did it happen?
- How did it happen?
- Which techniques helped you during the project?
- Which techniques didn’t help you at all?
- Which steps went well during the sprint?
- Which steps were tougher to execute during the sprint?
- How can the learnings help improve the next sprint?
4. What Should We Do On The Next Sprint?
Here you can identify the next best steps for correction and improvement for the next sprint.
- Can you utilize the strength of any individual team member to solve the issue?
- What can you do if there’s a problem to stop it from rising again?
- Which actions are within your capability that you should take immediately?
- What is the one thing you must change, and how?
- Which strategies are you going to apply to complete it?
How to Run an Effective Sprint Retrospective Meeting?
1. Appreciate Every Small Improvement
There is only so much improvement you can make during a single sprint. It’s okay to have actionable goals, but there’s no way for you to reach all of them in a single sprint. So there’s no need to be so hard on yourself. Every small improvement counts, and I appreciate every single of them.
2. You Cannot Grow Without Getting Out of The Comfort Zone
It’s okay to provide criticism that can push an individual teammate. But you shouldn’t be so harsh that your good intentions get shadowed by your harsh words.
Words like these can cause disagreements, and sometimes people settle on a solution that simply isn’t good enough and do it just to avoid conflict. That shouldn’t happen.
You have to think outside of the box to come out with a solution that resonates with you the most and is highly effective at the same time.
3. Your Failures Can Teach You More Than You Think
When competing with many others in a competitive field, you will always choose strategies that will not fail. But you will never learn anything new unless you fail. Because when you fail, you come up with unique ways to turn it into a win.
Create and promote a culture within our team that promotes retrying after failure. Failures can be great teachers, and one person’s experience of failure can benefit the entire team.
4. Remember To Separate Yourself From Your Work
Not everyone takes feedback the same way. A few members will use it to improve themselves, while others will get offended. The trick here is to separate yourself from your work.
Criticism isn’t directed toward you as a person but toward your work as a hint of improvement. With this realization, it’s much easier to stomach an opinion.
5. Grow As A Team
Scrum retrospectives work best as a team. It allows the whole team to collaborate, criticize, and improve together. To ensure every team member is on the same page, retrospectives always bring everyone up to speed with sync sessions that explain the sprint context to the entire project team.
6. Create A Safe Space For Honest Feedback
It’s not always about pointing fingers at others and playing the blame game. It’s also not about being so nice that the true objective of the retrospective itself gets overshadowed. The core of continuous improvement for any sprint retrospective is honesty.
But sometimes, honesty out of nowhere can be perceived in various negative ways. It’s up to you to create an environment free of judgment where every team member can be honest about every step, approach, and action, and everyone can have a synchronous discussion.
7. Introduce Some Fun Into The Mix
Why should every retrospective meeting be too intense? Why not add some fun to the mix and increase team involvement?
Introduce small games your team members can play along within the meeting that can help them share information and findings in a fun way. Also, you can try switching different retro formats once in a while.
8. Welcome Unique Perspectives Every Once In A While
Even when you have a team full of the best experts you have ever known, sometimes it’s best to bring in someone from the outside who can see the entire project differently than others.
When you invite someone to offer a fresh perspective and unique insights, the team also gets motivated to think outside the box and continues to prosper with actionable learning. The team can implement this newfound knowledge in the upcoming sprints.
9. Simplicity Is The Charm
As mentioned, you can’t solve every problem in retrospective scrum meetings. You’ll have to keep each meeting short and simple to serve the true purpose while fitting within the standard meeting time frame. This way, you reduce meeting time and get your product team to do more actual work.
10. Your Retrospectives Need A Retrospective As Well
You hold a retrospective meeting to find the rights and wrongs of a sprint session. But what if you held a retrospective meeting to improve the overall stage of your retrospective meetings? Sounds a bit meta, doesn’t it?
But that’s the idea! You can hold retrospectives to understand if your previous retrospective meetings are doing their job, if you need to improve the feedback-providing or gathering process in any manner and improve the current retrospective agendas.
To Wrap It All Up
Regular sprint retrospectives aim to solve as many issues as possible regarding the most recent sprint. If you want to make the best of your sprint retrospective meetings, always consult with your entire development team before making any move, and ensure continuous learning to plan for improvements.
A sprint retrospective is a meeting where all team members come together and discuss the most recent sprint they completed. These meetings are held at regular intervals.
In agile, faster iteration is the biggest priority, and sprint retrospectives enable all teammates to quickly assess the situation before working on the next iteration for more improvements.
A sprint retrospective should occur right after a sprint has been completed so the team members can come together to discuss everything regarding said sprint.
Without holding a sprint retrospective, the team members can’t keep in sync with each other. Also, the team doesn’t know what they’re doing right or wrong without a meeting where someone points it out. This can cause the creation of an underwhelming product.
A scrum master organizes the retrospective, gathers feedback from all employees, and suggests improvements according to the team’s capacity and the project’s current situation.