Have you ever participated in a sprint retrospective? If you are working in the software development industry, most probably you have. Whether you’re new to this industry or have been a team member for many years, you need to participate in a sprint retrospective to focus on continuous improvement. These agile meetings can uncover opportunities for process improvements and guide the team to perform in the right way. A poorly arranged meeting always includes endless conversations that have negative effects on the team spirit. In this article, we will discuss how you can use the sprint retrospective to improve your next sprint. We will discuss the key benefits of creating a sprint retrospective agenda in detail and provide some tips to help you make the meeting as effective as possible.
What is a Sprint Retrospective Meeting?
A sprint retrospective provides an opportunity for the team to look back and inspect itself to decide improvements for the next sprint. Therefore retrospective should be designed as a platform for team members to share their feedback without being prejudiced. They should discuss honestly on what can be improved, which actions can be taken and which items can be documented.
Retrospectives are useful for any type of teams within a project. However, sprint retrospectives should be optimized or a Scrum team (or Kanban team). It is a good idea to run a sprint retrospective when a sprint ends. Because at the end of a sprint, team members have fresh ideas in their minds. They will talk about actionable items and continuous improvement and how to make positive changes.
What are the Benefits of Running a Sprint Retrospective Meeting?
If you are a Scrum team member, the sprint retrospective is already a part of your business. You spend hours to participate in the sprint retrospectives. Below are a few benefits of sprint retrospective meeting.
- It is a safe platform for team members to share their ideas and feedback.
- It helps the team to document opportunities and key issues.
- It helps to create a list of actions for the next steps and define who is responsible for what.
- It improves teamwork in the workplace.
- It helps to identify changes that lead to continuous improvement.
- It encourages decision making within the agile team.
Key Differences Between a Sprint Review and a Sprint Retrospective
Each sprint is required to complete a specific work for product increment. Hence, the team has produced a piece of software at the end of each sprint. Although both the sprint review and the sprint retrospective are scrum ceremonies that take place at the end of the sprint, they have some key differences.
- The sprint review meeting is held at the end of each sprint in which the scrum team demonstrates what they accomplished during this sprint. It is an informal meeting held to present the demo of the work completed.
- Sprint retrospective takes place after the completion of the sprint review. The aim of the sprint retrospective is to identify areas of improvement to make the next sprint better. The Scrum Team inspects itself and creates a plan to ensure that improvements will be done during the next sprint.
The duration of the sprint review depends on the length of the sprint. A sprint review might take two hours for a two-week sprint. After the sprint review, the sprint retrospective takes place which might take one and half hour.
During the sprint retrospective, there might be some challenges that you should overcome.
- Team members might become less engaged in the answers if the same questions are asked all the time. You need to lead the team to adopt different exercises and questions.
- Answers might be affected by the team members bias and judgments. You need to encourage them to share their feedback without prejudice.
- Lack of conversation among the team members is an important issue that affects the success of the sprint retrospective. You need to encourage them to share their suggestions and thoughts.
- Some of the team members might be resistant to changes and suggestions. Explain to them how the positive changes will improve the next sprint and what kind of benefits will the team obtain. Be positive and talk about values or results to persuade them for the changes.
- If run poorly, it might have negative impacts on teamwork. Do not allow the sprint retrospective to turn into a complaining session.
1. Keep it Short and Simple
Keeping the retrospective short and simple will help the team to focus on the issues regarding improvement.
2. Use Games and Tactics
Using games and tactics is an effective way to get some deeper insights into the team’s thoughts and ideas. For example, you can use lego retrospective in which you use lego models as a metaphor to tease out a new idea.
3. Create a Sprint Retrospective Agenda
You can use Kanban Boards to create a sprint retrospective agenda. By the way, you will not spend too much time on a particular discussion.
4. Make it Actionable
Ideas and improvements should be applicable and actionable. Because you cannot assign anything which is not actionable to someone on the team.
5. Look from different perspectives
Looking from different perspectives or bringing an outside perspective may be helpful to drive change for the team.
A good Scrum team should look for improvement opportunities. The sprint retrospective meeting is one of the ceremonies that Scrum and Kanban teams leverage along with product development. It gives a chance to the team to inspect itself. It helps the team members to discuss and make improvements for the next sprint.
Kiron Shallow the director of training at Northshire Education. He is experienced in in Lean, Agile, Kanban, SAFe, Scrum, technical Agile practices, design patterns and emergent design.