Who is Responsible for Facilitating the Sprint Retrospective Meeting?

Running sprint retrospective meetings is an essential part of working with Scrum.

There are many different people and roles on product teams. You might be wondering who is responsible for facilitating the sprint retrospective meeting.

Sprint retrospective meetings should be managed and led by one key player. However, everyone on the team must contribute equally to these meetings. With the right questions and information covered in retrospectives, these meetings will help teams work more efficiently.

Let's discuss who is responsible for facilitating the sprint retrospective meeting, and other important retrospective-related information.

Who is Responsible for Facilitating the Sprint Retrospective Meeting?

Knowing who is responsible for facilitating the sprint retrospective meeting is an important part of working in agile and Scrum.

The Scrum master is responsible for facilitating these meetings. It's their job to ask everyone to contribute their ideas in the meeting - usually, in a start, stop, continue format.

The sprint retrospective meeting should be attended by everyone on the sprint team. This includes the product manager and anyone else who is actively involved in designing or building the product. The product owner should also attend the sprint retrospective meetings.

Sprint retrospective meetings are held between each sprint. They take place after a sprint review and before the new sprint is planned. They're an essential function for making agile projects more efficient, and ensuring the sprint team is on the right track.

Questions to Ask in a Sprint Retrospective

The Scrum master, who is responsible for sprint retrospective meeting agendas, must ensure the right information is covered in each session. This is why it's so important that they ask the right questions during a sprint retrospective, and that everyone on the team contributes toward the answers.

While these meetings could look different depending on the sprint team, the stage of the project, and the product, here are some of the best questions to ask in a sprint retrospective meeting.

Four Key Questions

Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews highlights four key questions. It's always a good idea for the Scrum master to cover these questions during a sprint retrospective. Here they are:

  • What did we do well in the sprint, that if we don't discuss we might forget?
  • What did we learn from the sprint?
  • What should we do differently in the next sprint?
  • What still puzzles us moving forward?

Answering these four questions gets sprint teams caught up with their major successes, failures, and roadblocks. These four key questions are an excellent and efficient way to guide the sprint meeting and gain some valuable insights from the team.

Once everyone in the team contributes their ideas, the team will already have a good roadmap in place for the sprint ahead.

"Why?" Questions

When Scrum masters facilitate sprint retrospective meetings, they generally focus on "what"-style questions. While these are useful for gaining insights, they often don't provide enough information to help the team perform better in the next sprint.

By taking a "why" approach, it becomes easier for teams to establish the root cause of any issues, and figure out how they can perform better and how they can avoid potential issues. Asking why is also an excellent way to follow up on any of the four key questions listed above.

For example, you could ask questions like:

  • Why did you think the achievement was a success?
  • Why is X important to you in this project?
  • Why are you confused about a certain issue?
  • Why did X go off-course?
  • Why did this sprint work well for you?
  • The answers to these kinds of questions will provide details that can be turned into more actionable insights for the sprint ahead. This means the sprint retrospective meeting is not only focused on reviewing the sprint, but on actively finding ways to improve the next sprint.

    Specific Questions

    The Scrum master, who facilitates sprint retrospective meetings, should try to get as specific as possible when gaining insights from these meetings.

    It's always a good idea to avoid generic questions and answers when drawing information from the team.

    Once you have covered the main topics from the four key questions, dig deeper into the information. This will help you find out how each person can work most efficiently, and find ways for the team to improve as a whole.

    These types of questions should be asked on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific challenges or successes of the project.

    Some examples of these "specific" questions include:

    • At what point during the sprint did things start going wrong?
    • What and who do you expect to work more successfully during the next sprint?
    • What one thing would you have changed about the previous sprint?
    • What do you feel helps the team be successful as a unit?
    • What tools have been most useful during the sprint and what tools have not helped you?
    • What caused the problems you faced during the sprint?

    These are just a few examples, but the idea is to get very specific and really narrow down the answer for each area of the sprint. If you move forward to the next sprint without specific details of how the team can work better, you might face many of the same issues again.

    When the Scrum master facilitates these meetings, they must ensure everyone on the team provides open and honest feedback. This is the only way to gain real value from the retrospective.

    Final Thoughts

    So, who is responsible for facilitating the sprint retrospective meeting? The Scrum master!

    It's their role to ensure that these meetings cover the right questions, and that actionable, insightful information is produced in each session.

    While a sprint retrospective may feel like an unwanted task for many, they are incredibly valuable when the right questions are asked. Get it right, and each sprint will become more successful and more enjoyable for each team member. Well-run sprint retrospectives are key to successful agile projects.

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