Essentials & New Ideas for an Effective Sprint Retrospective

Retrospection is key to understanding and self-awareness. At work, and in life, it’s important to take time to reflect and evaluate our progress, so we can better understand our motivations, our goals and our environment. Scrum, an agile framework for small teams, especially harnesses the benefits of retrospection.

Scrum works under the assumption that customers regularly change their minds about what they want or need. This dynamic environment requires daily meetings, called daily scrums, where team members can collect themselves and ensure that everyone is working together towards the customer’s current needs.

In order to deliver quickly and adapt to changes, scrum teams work in short durations of one month or less called sprints, where a sprint retrospective is held at the end of each sprint. A sprint retrospective is just as it sounds, a time of reflection. But it is more than a mere acknowledgement of what has passed in previous sprints: it offers lessons that provide direction forward.

What Is a Sprint Retrospective?

A sprint retrospective gives the entire team a moment of introspection. They can stop and look back on the sprint, discuss what happened, analyze the way they worked together, identify how it might have been improved and then make plansto implement those improvements in the next sprint.

The sprint retrospective is usually held as the last activity of the sprint. It is a good idea to repeat the sprint retrospective at the same day time and place. They can last for between an hour to three hours, depending on the sprint length.

Who’s Involved?

The entire team is present for the sprint retrospective. That includes the scrum naster, the product owner, the development team and everyone who is designing, building and testing the product. Although, it is not unprecedented for the scrum teamto seek outside insight and perspectives.

While the sprint retrospective gives everyone involved time to look back on the sprint, it also helps them to identify and agree on a continuous process of improvements that can be turned into actionable tasks in the present and future.

What’s Addressed?

There are three main questions that are asked in the sprint retrospective: What went well during the sprint, what did not go well and what could be improved for better productivity in the next sprint? These questions, and the whole sprint retrospective, are facilitated by the scrum master.

Although those are the primary questions asked in a retrospective, nothing is off the table in terms of what can be talked about, as long as it relates to the overall sprint that just occurred. This is a critical function of the scrum workflow in that it gives the scrum teams an opportunity to fine-tune their behaviors and actions to better serve the product creation.

The Scrum Master’s Role in a Sprint Retrospective

The scrum master is the person who is facilitating the process of a sprint retrospective. They are there to make sure the team is looking at what happened over the last sprint so they can develop new ways to improve performance in the next.

While a scrum team is self-organized and can pivot quickly as needed, the scrum master helps with the flow of information to make their decisions more effective. Therefore, without a scrum master to help the team, the pathway towards an improvement process can be slow.

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