Sprint Retrospectives

One of the biggest benefits of Scrum is the empirical nature of it.  From the perspective of improving an individual team’s process, the Sprint Retrospective is a critical element of this.  I’ve run quite a few of these meetings and feel they can be done effectively and with minimal overhead.

At the end of each sprint, I like to combine the Sprint Retrospective with two other Sprint related functions into a single team meeting.  The first item is to recap the status of the goals for the sprint that just ended.  As a team, we will decide if we met or didn’t meet each individual goal.  We will also decide what deliverables we will present at the sprint review. 

The last item that we do at this meeting is have the Product Owner do a quick overview of the priorities for the next sprint.  This will drive our task oriented planning for the upcoming sprint.  We will typically have a meeting in one or two days after this meeting to finalize the plan for the next sprint. 

The Retrospective will typically take up the bulk of this meeting.  In Agile Project Management with Scrum, Ken Schwaber recommends that each team member answer two questions:  

         - What went well in the last sprint?
         - What could be improved in the next sprint?

What I’ve found to work better is a suggestion that I took off of the Yahoo Scrum Discussion Group.  The suggestion is to ask the following three questions:

         - What should we start doing?
         - What should we keep doing?
         - What should we stop doing?

I’ve found that using these questions is more likely to trigger changes for the next sprint.  Trying something different is the goal of this exercise after all.  That’s what Inspect and Adapt is all about.

I like to log all of the Retrospective comments in a tab in our Sprint spreadsheet.  The whole approach is very low ceremony - the critical thing is to take the time to reflect and try to make things better on a monthly basis.

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