How Often Should You Run a Sprint Retrospective?

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
May 19, 2022
Updated on
Jun 18, 2022
Table of Content

Imagine holding a project meeting with your team and realizing that no one is on the same page. This can be frustrating and unproductive, and lead to a lot of wasted time. In fact, companies lose $37 billion annually because of unproductive meetings, and 91% of people even admit to daydreaming during these meetings. Companies need meetings to brainstorm, develop new ideas and hold each other accountable, but these events must be conducted efficiently. If not, it can result in a domino effect of low morale and even lower productivity, holding the team back.

A common meeting that product teams have is the Sprint Retrospective. It’s effectiveness is greatly dependent on how often you hold them. Understanding the Sprint Retrospective can be helpful, but you must also know how often you should be running these sessions.

What Is a Sprint Retrospective?

The Sprint Retrospective is a session held after each Sprint (a pre-planned set of work with a specific goal) where the team reflects on how the Sprint went and what could be improved for the next one. 

A Sprint Retrospective in Agile is a meeting held at the end of each Sprint. This type of meeting is dedicated to reviewing what went well during the Sprint, what went wrong, and what can be improved for the next Sprint. 

Sprint Retrospectives are essential because they help teams learn and grow to produce better results in the future. By holding these meetings regularly, teams can continue to improve their process and product delivery.

Who Attends Sprint Retrospective Meetings?

Sprint Retrospectives are usually held with the entire team. Depending on the size of your team or the magnitude of your project, you may also want to include stakeholders or other key people who were involved in the sprint. In general, the Scrum Master facilitates the meeting. This role entails keeping the meeting on track and ensuring everyone has a chance to speak.

How Do You Implement Action Items Captured in Retrospectives?

Since the goal of a retrospective is to improve the team's process, it's essential to follow up on any action items. Teams can do this in a variety of ways, but here are three tips for implementing action items from retrospectives:

1. Assign someone to own each item

When it comes time to implement an action item from a retrospective, assigning someone to own it is a great way to ensure it gets done. This person should be responsible for completing the item and tracking or updating it so that everyone knows it’s status.

2. Create a timeline for completing the item

If an action item isn't something the team can complete immediately, create a timeline for when members should finish it. Having this information will help keep everyone accountable and prevent things from slipping through the cracks.

3. Set up regular check-ins on progress

It's helpful to set up regular check-ins on progress toward completing action items from retrospectives. This way, you can make sure that everyone is still moving forward with what was decided and that there aren't any roadblocks getting in the way.

How Do Sprint Retrospectives Provide Value to Agile Teams?

Sprint Retrospectives provide value to Agile teams by giving team members a structured opportunity to reflect on their work and identify what actions they should take to improve in future Sprints. A sprint retrospective provides key benefits, including:

1. Identifying and resolving issues before the next sprint

2. Helping team members understand how their individual actions impact the entire team

3. Encouraging team collaboration and problem-solving

4. Improving process efficiency and overall team productivity

The purpose of a Sprint Retrospective meeting is to help teams continuously improve their process and delivery. Without it, the team would be left guessing what might work better next time around and would be more likely to repeat the same mistakes. Additionally, it can help build team cohesion and trust as team members openly share their thoughts and feelings about their work.

How Often Are Sprint Retrospectives Held?

Now that you know all about Sprint Retrospectives, you may be wondering, “When should Sprint Retrospective meetings be held?”

Sprint Retrospectives are ideally held at the end of every Sprint. This gives the team a chance to review what they’ve accomplished in the recent Sprint and look for ways to improve their process and outcomes. Although most teams fall to holding Sprint Retrospectives every 7-14 days, there is no definite answer regarding how often you should have one — it all depends on what works best for your team.

Some teams prefer to hold their retrospective every other Sprint, while others find it more beneficial to do so every Sprint. There are pros and cons to both approaches. For example, holding a retrospective every Sprint means that the team will constantly reflect on their process and make improvements. However, this can also lead to a lot of wasted time if the team cannot effectively identify and address problems.

On the other hand, holding a retrospective every other Sprint gives the team more time to work on their process and improve. However, they may not address more minor issues that have arisen in the meantime, leading to bigger problems down the road.

It is ultimately up to the team to decide how often to hold their Sprint Retrospective. The important thing is to make sure that the retrospective is effective and that the team can identify issues and take action.

Final Thoughts

Running a Sprint Retrospective is a core component of the Scrum process and should be done regularly to ensure that the team is continually improving. The frequency of Sprint Retrospectives will depend on the team's needs, but should be done at the end of each Sprint. If a Sprint traditionally takes 1-2 weeks to complete, then a retrospective should be held every 7-14 days.

If your team is struggling, you may want to consider holding Sprint Retrospectives more often. However, if you think your team is doing well, you can probably stick to the once-per-Sprint schedule. After all, meetings can be time-consuming, and you don't want to slow your team down by holding them too frequently. Just make sure you're holding them regularly enough to keep track of your team's progress and ensure that everyone is always on the same page.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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