Topics in Scrum

Sprint Retrospective

No matter how good a Scrum team is, there is always opportunity to improve. Although a good Scrum team will be constantly looking for improvement opportunities, the team should set aside a brief, dedicated period at the end of each sprint to deliberately reflect on how they are doing and to find ways to improve. This occurs during the sprint retrospective.

The sprint retrospective is usually the last thing done in a sprint. Many teams will do it immediately after the sprint review. The entire team, including both the ScrumMaster and the product owner should participate. You can schedule a scrum retrospective for up to an hour, which is usually quite sufficient. However, occasionally a hot topic will arise or a team conflict will escalate and the retrospective could take significantly longer.

Although there are many ways to conduct an agile sprint retrospective, our recommendation is to conduct it as a start-stop-continue meeting. This is perhaps the simplest, but often the most effective way to conduct a retrospective. Using this approach each team member is asked to identify specific things that the team should:

  • Start doing
  • Stop doing
  • Continue doing

There are many variations on this simple format. The ScrumMaster can facilitate this sprint retrospective meeting by asking everyone to just shout out ideas during the scrum. The ScrumMaster can go around the room asking each person to identify any one thing to start, stop or continue. Or, for example, he or she can tell everyone to focus on identifying something to stop this time because not much attention has been paid to things to stop in recent retrospectives.

After an initial list of ideas has been brainstormed, teams will commonly vote on specific items to focus on during the coming sprint. At the end of the sprint, the next retrospective is often begun by reviewing the list of things selected for attention in the prior sprint retrospective.