Sprint retrospectives are an incredibly useful exercise for scrum teams to understand what they’ve done well, should continue doing, and should stop doing from sprint to sprint. If you’ve never run a sprint retrospective, you may not know where to begin. The guide below and template provided will ease that burden and equip you with everything you need, so keep reading.
Free download: Sprint Retrospective Template
What is a Sprint Retrospective?
A sprint retrospective is a timed meeting at the end of a sprint. It occurs after a sprint’s review and before planning for the next sprint. A standup meeting tool like Jell makes these meetings more streamlined and effective.
In these meetings, the development team looks to improve product quality with better work processes by investigating how their last sprint went in terms of interactions, assumptions, tools, and processes. As well, a key point to these retrospectives is establishing what the “finished” product looks like, so all team members understand specifically what it looks like to be done (which changes over time as the team performs higher). This is important so that you’re able to objectively assess when work hasn’t met standards.
The team goes over what went well, what issues came up, and how these issues were solved (or not). They also pinpoint how to best improve team effectiveness and address the most critical improvements as soon as possible. Since there can be many different team members working in different time zones and locations, asynchronous meetings can be very useful for sprint retrospectives, and a tool like Jell makes this process easy and simple.
What is the Purpose of the Sprint Retrospective?
The purpose of the sprint retrospective is to give your team the opportunity to brainstorm and plan how you will improve the effectiveness and quality of your project and overall work. More specifically, the point is to:
- Assess how the sprint you just finished went in terms of tools and processes, and team members’ interactions and relationships.
- Recognize and prioritize what went well and what didn’t go so well
- Come up with ideas for improvements.
- Prepare a go-forward plan to put these improvements in place within the context of how your scrum team completes its tasks.
Who Runs a Sprint Retrospective Meeting?
Sprint retrospectives are run by the Scrum Master. They motivate and encourage the development team to better its workflow in terms of a scrum so that they can improve the next sprint. It’s the Scrum Master’s role to offer expertise and ideas and to coach the team if and when it detours from the systems and methods that were agreed to.
When is a Sprint Retrospective Meeting Held?
Sprint retrospectives are held between sprints, which is after the review but before planning the next sprint. You’re always better off running the retrospective separately from the review so that only those involved attend each meeting, which avoids the need to explain the purpose or context to others, keeping the meeting focused and as brief as possible.
Who Should Attend the Sprint Retrospective?
The Scrum Master, product owner, and development team (anyone designing, building, or testing) should attend the sprint retrospective. Each team member brings something different to the table and offers their own perspective for process improvement.
What’s the Difference Between a Sprint Retrospective and a Sprint Review?
The sprint review is when the scrum team explains, and demonstrates through the product, what they’ve achieved over the sprint to product managers and other stakeholders. On the other hand, the sprint retrospective is for the team directly involved in creating the product to assess their work and plan improvements.
Agile Scrum is the Way to Go
Over 90% of business units that completely adopted an agile model before the COVID-19 pandemic outperformed those that hadn’t. Plus, 84% of agile teams prefer scrum as their method – which is something Jell can help streamline!
How to Run a Sprint Retrospective
There are many ways to run a sprint retrospective. A common method is to ask four questions that each team member answers: what went well, what didn’t go well, what are our new ideas, and what action items do we commit to? The Scrum Master leads this by either getting team members to call out their ideas or by talking to each person individually to solicit their feedback.
Free download: Sprint Retrospective Template
Though agendas for sprint retrospectives are different across organizations and projects, there are usually some common steps to take, like the following:
- Set goals. Create the meeting objectives ahead of time, whether they’re to improve communication with stakeholders, utilize better scrum stand-ups (which can easily be done with Jell), or change some type of standards.
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- Collect required data. Create an information hub based on the whole team’s perspective and experience.
- Build insights. Using the information collected, look for helpful patterns to get a sense of the broader picture, and ask why things occurred as they did.
- Figure out next steps. Understand the team’s issues and challenges and implement a solid plan to tackle them.
- Wrap up. Be sure to summarize the meeting, make any needed clarifications when you do so, address any improvement ideas for future retrospectives, and thank attendees for showing up.
Sprint retrospectives can last up to three hours long. It all depends on how many team members you have and if any are new and need more background, and if they work remotely or in person.
Generally, these meetings can take:
- 45 minutes for a one-week sprint
- 1.5 hours for a two-week sprint
- 2.25 hours for a three-week sprint
- 3 hours for a one-month sprint
Common Questions for a Scrum Master in a Sprint Retrospective
What went well during the sprint?
Consider the key things done to create successful outcomes, who made this happen and how they did so, as well as the training, skills, and knowledge that positively impacted the work.
What went wrong during the sprint?
Don’t penalize individuals or the whole team here. Analyze what didn’t go as planned and come up with ways to do better next time.
What did the team learn?
It’s important to recognize key learnings from the sprint so the team can improve how they work moving forward.
How should the next sprint go?
This means coming up with specific actions the team should take during future sprints to avoid the same downfalls or mistakes that happened during this sprint.
Creative Ways a Scrum Master Can Motivate Their Team After a Sprint
Recognize and Acknowledge
People thrive on recognition for a job well done, but many employees feel their efforts are either disregarded, overlooked, or not given enough recognition by management.
Lead Team-Building Activities
People crave that personal connection and camaraderie to feel engaged at work and in their day-to-day tasks. Team building activities can bring team members together, improving their effectiveness and encouraging them to trust and rely on one another.
Take Challenges in Stride
It’s important to have a contingency plan in case of unforeseen challenges or setbacks at work. Whether it’s a disagreement among team members, external negative impacts, a complete project failure, or certain project elements don’t go as well as you’d hoped, be prepared and remain positive without placing blame on specific people. The best thing you can do for your team is to focus them on how they can make the best out of the circumstances.
Balance the Workload
There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but watch out for team members who are going too extreme and at risk of burning themselves out. There are only so many hours in a day and people only have so much energy – we do our best work when we’re feeling healthy and clear-headed. Ensure workloads are balanced among team members – you can find out what tasks need to be shifted or re-delegated through daily asynchronous standup meetings, easily done with a tool like Jell. These check-ins keep everyone on the same page and in the know about who’s doing what, while creating a welcome environment for team members to connect and communicate what they need.
Keep an Open Mind
When it comes to different viewpoints and negative feedback, keeping an open mind is key. Agile teams have a natural space to express and hear ideas from all team members – whether it’s during daily scrum meetings, individual or team check-ins (Jell can help streamline these and save you time), or planning meetings. It’s important to keep an open ear and mind to everything your team has to say – both positive and negative. They might see things you don’t have the opportunity to see and contribute to a more well-rounded overall perspective. When your team members see this, they’ll feel heard, respected, and more confident, which will empower them and bring better business results in the long run.
Relax and Enjoy
Make project management fun so there’s something for your team to look forward to, even on the most hectic or stressful days. This is another way to balance work and avoid burnout, which, in the long run, maintains productivity and improves motivation. You can offer this in the form of a team activity for those interested, or paid time off for team members to destress with their family and friends outside of work. The idea is to destress and decompress.
Now that you’ve seen just how helpful sprint retrospectives can be for scrum teams and what they involve, be sure to utilize the template to get you started and implement daily asynchronous standup meetings with the help of a tool like Jell. Especially if you’ve never run a sprint retrospective, these tools are invaluable.
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