What Is Discussed In A Sprint Retrospective

Sprint retrospectives are essential meetings that should be held throughout any Scrum project.

While teams understand the value of these meetings, project managers always have the same question when planning them: what is discussed in a sprint retrospective?

Retrospective meetings are only really useful if you cover the right information and ask the right questions. If you don't, you won't be able to gain actionable insights that will optimize the next sprint.

To help you out, this guide covers what should be discussed in a sprint retrospective and what should be avoided.

What Should Be Discussed In A Sprint Retrospective?

Which of the following are discussed in a sprint retrospective: what went well, what did not go well, what risks are possible, and what lessons were learned?

The answer is simple - all of them!

A sprint retrospective meeting involves the entire Scrum team coming together to reflect on the sprint. This meeting is held to review the sprint's successes and failures.

In a sprint retrospective, the team gives valuable feedback on their performance. This leads to insights and action items that can be used to improve future sprints.

So, exactly what is discussed in a sprint retrospective?

Sprint retrospective meetings can follow various formats, depending on the length of the sprint, the size of the team, and the overall goal of the project.

Each session can look slightly different for each team and project. However, there are a few general questions that should be asked in each meeting.

What Went Well?

The first thing teams discuss in a spring retrospective meeting is what went well in the sprint. This is done to establish the successes in the sprint and to determine what made these successes happen.

By having a solid grasp on what went well, teams will be able to find ways to replicate those actions in the sprint ahead.

When establishing what went well in a sprint, the following items can be discussed:

  • How did the team achieve success?
  • What specific skill or area of knowledge contributed to the success?
  • What motivated the success?
  • Where there are specific tools used to achieve success?
  • Did the team do anything new to achieve success?
  • What strong points of the team made the success happen?

Understanding these different areas will make it easier to know how to work more efficiently in the sprint ahead.

Discussing what went well also helps to boost team morale and keep teams motivated for the next sprint.

What Did Not Go Well?

Just as it's important to discuss successes, it's equally important that teams understand failures. Knowing where the team fell short in the sprint, or where problems arose, is important for understanding how to avoid challenges in the sprint ahead.

The deeper a team can dive into problem areas of the sprint, the better they will understand how to work in the coming sprint.

Here are some items that teams can discuss to establish how processes can be improved:

  • What did the team (or team members) do that went wrong?
  • How did the issue go wrong?
  • How did you understand when it went wrong?
  • How could you have prevented the issue from taking place?

Possible Risks and Uncertainties

Once teams establish the sprint's successes and downfalls, they should look at potential risks or unknown elements that lie ahead. While teams aim to eliminate risks with a retrospective, it's still possible that there are unanswered questions or upcoming events that the team isn't sure about.

Being able to identify and discuss these is important for minimizing the possible effects of the risk. It improves the chances of being able to address the risk as best as possible.

What Did We Learn in the Sprint?

Teams need to establish what they learned from the sprint and how they will use this knowledge to optimize their performance in the future.

This encourages team members to avoid the same mistakes and work more efficiently going forward.

Teams should think about how the sprint was executed, which techniques were used, and which of these worked.

Teams should also think about when issues went wrong, and when areas of the sprint went well. This all comes together to create insights the team can use going forward.

What Can We Do Differently in the Sprint Ahead?

Once the team has broken down their performance in the sprint, the final thing to do is discuss their action plan for the sprint ahead.

The knowledge gained from successes, failures, and risks should be used to guide team actions going forward.

The general aim of this discussion is to stop the same issues from arising, to make sure that each individual is equipped to deal with any challenges, and to ensure the team is prepared to work as productively and efficiently as possible.

Understanding which strategies the team can use to optimize the next sprint's performance is the most important element of running a sprint retrospective.

What Should Not Be Discussed In A Sprint Retrospective?

Now that we have established what should be discussed in a sprint retrospective, it's important to know what should not be discussed in a sprint retrospective.

Here are some things to avoid discussing and doing during a retrospective meeting:

  • Getting too picky about who made mistakes during the sprint and trying to pinpoint individual team members who are not performing well. The point of a retrospective is to help the entire team and to keep the team motivated.
  • Avoid discussing the sprint retrospective outside of the team. Team members need to know that these meetings are confidential to create a safe space for them.
  • Repeating the same meeting pattern for each retrospective in a project should be avoided. This makes retrospectives boring and can result in a lot of important information being missed.
  • Avoid making the retrospective a one-way meeting. Always gain insights and opinions from every team member and facilitate open and clear discussion and communication.

Final Thoughts

Discussing the right things in a sprint retrospective will help teams gain more valuable insights. This can improve the way that teams approach upcoming sprints.

By continually performing retrospectives and using them to answer important questions, teams should see better productivity and performance with each sprint.

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