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What is a Sprint Retrospective? | Video

What is a Sprint Retrospective? | Video

In the Scrum framework, a Sprint Retrospective is the last step of a sprint. But what exactly is it?

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The Purpose of a Sprint retrospective

The purpose of a Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to improve quality and effectiveness of how the team works. 

The sprint retrospective allows the team to reflect on the way they worked, share insights and ideas, and identify areas of improvement they can carry forward into the next sprint. 

Who should attend a Sprint Retrospective?

Sprint retrospective should include the: 

  • Scrum Master
  • Product Owner
  • Development team members 
    That is, everyone who has a role in designing, building, and testing the product.
  • and any other relevant stakeholders, 

Stakeholders, users, and managers who are not directly part of the team usually don’t come to a Scrum retrospective unless specifically invited. Instead, they participate in the sprint review meeting. In this, the Scrum team shows what they accomplished during the sprint, often including product demos. 

So, 

  • The Sprint Retrospective meeting focuses on the teams processes
  • The Sprint Review Meeting focuses on the deliverables and outcomes of the sprint

It is usually facilitated by the Scrum Master but the team could nominate another facilitator. 

How does a Sprint Retrospective Run?

Typically, a Sprint Retrospective meeting is 45 minutes for a one-week sprint, but longer for two, three or 4-week sprints. Maybe up to three hours for a month-long sprint.

The facilitator (usually the Scrum Master) encourages the scrum team to inspect how the last Sprint went and how well its process and practices worked. It will look at things like:

  • Individuals
  • Interactions
  • Processes
  • Tools
  • The Definition of Done
  • Assumptions that led the team astray

This can vary with the domain of work. 

The Scrum Team discusses:

  • What went well during the Sprint?
  • And what went wrong or could be improved?
  • What problems did the team encounter, and how were (or weren’t) those problems solved?
  • And what did we learn from it?
  • What will the team commit to doing in the next sprint?

Then, the team will look for ways to improve its workflow practices in the next sprint. They will select the most helpful changes and will prioritize the most impactful improvements. They may even be added to the Sprint Backlog for the next Sprint. 

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About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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