How To Run A Sprint Retrospective
Well-run sprint retrospectives can hugely benefit teams operating under the Scrum framework. In this case, the term "well-run" is key!
A sprint retrospective can give your team the space to reflect on their performance after a sprint. This can lead to future sprints being more productive and efficient. What's not to love?
If you've ever wondered how to run a sprint retrospective effectively, this article is for you.
Read on for some top tips on running a sprint retrospective.
Introduction To A Sprint Retrospective
Before we dive into how to run a sprint retrospective, let's refresh what we know about these meetings.
Every project has unique challenges, and every team has a unique style of addressing them. This is perfectly normal, even healthy, in the business environment.
This being said, each team will experience a sprint differently. Each team must get a chance to provide feedback on their specific experience, as this can improve subsequent sprints.
A sprint retrospective offers much value to the project at hand, but how do you get the most from your sprint retrospective event?
First, you need to recognize the importance of the sprint retrospective. It's a vital part of the process that can't be overlooked. Taking this meeting for granted means that you'll miss out on valuable feedback from the team.
In retrospective meetings, each team member will be allowed to reflect on their performance in the sprint, as well as the performance of other team members. Collectively, this feedback lays the foundation for how future sprints are planned and executed.
Running a great retrospective means that you'll be able to seek out and collect meaningful insights from your team. These insights can be turned into actionable improvements. So, learning how to run a top-tier and efficient retrospective can be extremely beneficial to the project you're working on.
However, even the most seasoned project manager can do with some pointers on how to run a sprint retrospective. So read on to learn how to run a sprint retrospective meeting that rocks!
Who Should Be There?
One of the first things to consider when planning how to run a good sprint retrospective is who should be there. In short - everyone on the Scrum team.
Every team member involved in the sprint should attend the sprint retrospective. In the case of remote teams or hybrid teams, this may seem more difficult. However, it is not at all difficult to arrange.
Consider hosting a remote retrospective! This will allow each team member to attend, regardless of where they are. When run well, remote retrospectives can be every bit as inclusive as in-person meetings.
Try to accommodate the majority of the team by finding a time that works for most of them. You don't want to exclude anyone, as every team member has a valuable contribution to make.
What Is The Goal?
Let's discuss what the goal of your sprint retrospective should be.
Why should you run a sprint retrospective? The goal of this meeting is to identify how each team member performed in the sprint, as well as the team as a whole. Feedback can be gained on how to improve future sprints.
A retrospective must cover all aspects of the sprint process, from start to finish. From this information, it will be clear how well the team communicates, and if someone is taking on too many tasks.
This is important, as the success of any project largely depends on the strength of the team working on it. If your team experiences collaboration issues, a sprint retrospective is the best place to address them.
What Are The Benefits?
So, why should you run a sprint retrospective? A sprint retrospective event can benefit your project, your Scrum team, and future teams. Let's explain.
A retrospective event will address what the team did right, what might have gone wrong, and how to improve the sprint process in the future.
Identifying where they went right boosts morale. Identifying where they went wrong can motivate the team to do better, as well as improve their workflow. Determining a way forward challenges the team's logical thinking and problem-solving skills.
These are the immediate benefits of a great retrospective. But, there are more advantages when you know how to run an effective sprint retrospective!
Each successful sprint retrospective improves the chances of the next sprint being successful. The lessons learned during the sprint retrospective will guide future teams in their process.
This means more efficient work on projects, with fewer mistakes.
How to Run A Sprint Retrospective Effectively
Are you interested in learning how to run an effective sprint retrospective?
We've compiled some top tips that you can integrate into your retrospective meetings.
Make It Easy To Attend
Is your team fully remote, or do you have a hybrid team made up of remote and office-bound staff?
With the right video conferencing tools, this doesn't matter! Remote retrospective meetings can be as effective as in-person ones.
For in-person meetings, always ensure that everyone is in the loop about where to meet and what to prepare.
Make sure that everyone is invited to attend, and feels included. Every viewpoint and contribution matters!
Make It Simple To Participate
In retrospective meetings, all team members should easily be able to share their views. A virtual collaboration document will allow members to participate, wherever they are.
For in-person team members, a large whiteboard with whiteboard markers is practical and easy to use. Each team member should also take notes for later reference, in whatever form they prefer.
Keep It Professional
Maintain a professional manner at all times, when conducting a sprint retrospective.
When discussing where things went wrong, don't allow the meeting to turn into a blame game. That will quickly descend into chaos and will be counterproductive.
Be clear from the start that any criticism must be both respectful and constructive. That goes for Scrum leaders and Scrum team members.
Encourage Individual Contributions
Rather than the team leader listing all the good and bad aspects of a sprint, encourage individual contributions.
Give each team member the chance to list what they think went right, and what they think went wrong, in the sprint. Allow everyone to offer suggestions about improvements. This is one of the most important sprint retrospective steps.
Set A Realistic New Goal And Timeline
When discussing actionable improvements that can be made, the next stage of the project, and other pertinent information, remember to be realistic.
Look at what the team has achieved in the time they were given. Could they have had better results with less pressure? Conversely, could they have achieved their goals in less time?
Provide each team member with a synopsis of the retrospective's minutes. Give feedback from management about their views on the team's progress.
Interactive Tools For Feedback
There are many ways that the team can be encouraged to give feedback in retrospective meetings. There are many ways that the team can be encouraged to give feedback in retrospective meetings.
Some people are naturally more extroverted and will speak up easily, but others might need coaxing. The use of interactive feedback tools can facilitate this process. Some people are naturally more extroverted and will speak up easily, but others might need coaxing. The use of interactive feedback tools can facilitate this process.
The method you choose should match the personalities of your team members, although some are decidedly more engaging than others.The method you choose should match the personalities of your team members, although some are decidedly more engaging than others.
You may know of the Sailboat retrospective technique. This technique involves drawing a sailboat, gusts of wind, an anchor, an iceberg, and even an island.
It doesn't have to be worthy of an art gallery! This drawing is a metaphor for the newly ended sprint.
This is an interactive way to encourage feedback from team members.
The wind can represent the people or processes that drove the sprint forward, whereas the anchor can describe factors that held the team back.
The iceberg and island represent obstacles to, and goals of, the sprint. These are very important factors to identify in any sprint.
The sailboat analogy can help team members who would otherwise struggle to find their voice.
The 4 Ls
The 4 Ls is another useful feedback tool.
This breaks down the sprint into positives and negatives. The 4 L's stand for what the team "liked", "learned", "lacked", and "longed for" in the sprint.
The opinions of the team can be grouped under these headings on a whiteboard or another interactive platform. Consider using sticky notes as a form of input, or a "notes" element if you're hosting a remote meeting.
The format of this exercise makes it efficient to use for in-person meetings, as well as remote settings.
This tool is popular as it is quick and easy to use. It also collects valuable feedback from the team that can be used to improve the future of the sprint.
Remember to keep the exercise simple! Begin with the foundational questions.
What did the team like, and what did they learn, in the sprint? What did they feel was lacking, and what did they wish they had during the sprint?
Once you have some basic answers, feel free to probe.
Get the team to elaborate on their answers. Why did they like what they liked? Why did they long for specific tools or resources?
Form And Follow-Up
Good Form For A Retrospective Event
When you're thinking about how to run a sprint retrospective, consider good form like with any business meeting. Keep all attendees in the loop about the meeting outline, and let them know if they should prepare anything. When you're thinking about how to run a sprint retrospective, consider good form like with any business meeting. Keep all attendees in the loop about the meeting outline, and let them know if they should prepare anything.
If using virtual collaboration software, ensure that team members are comfortable with it. If they are not, they might engage less, which will prevent them from contributing valuable insight. If using virtual collaboration software, ensure that team members are comfortable with it. If they are not, they might engage less, which will prevent them from contributing valuable insight.
Members should be punctual and turn their mobile devices off while the retrospective is in session. Any distractions should be left at the door - regardless of whether the meeting is online or in person. Members should be punctual and turn their mobile devices off while the retrospective is in session. Any distractions should be left at the door - regardless of whether the meeting is online or in person.
Following up on the issues raised in a sprint retrospective is essential.
No retrospective meeting is complete without assigning follow-up actions on the feedback obtained. After all, what's the point of having feedback if you don't use it?
Use the team feedback to address any issues in the team dynamic, and to provide the team with resources they feel like they lacked.
Allow team members to volunteer to tackle some of the issues they raised. Or, appoint members who are best suited to the task to take on certain challenges.
Remind the team that the goal of a retrospective is not to assign blame, but rather to address any issues that may deter later sprints.
Remember to give credit where credit is due. If a team has performed well, let them know it! A morale boost will go a long way in increasing efficiency and productivity.
We hope you've picked up some great tips for how to run a sprint retrospective.
These meetings can be laden with valuable information, and are not to be overlooked!
Running a great sprint retrospective means that you encourage all team members to share their experiences, gather the necessary information, and use this information to improve future sprints.
Regardless of the method you use for collecting feedback, ensure your team members have had time to prepare and feel comfortable with sharing. A sprint retrospective will truly be useful if members are engaged and included!