How to Run a Sprint Retrospective: the Meeting Checklist (and Guide) for Retro Moderators
Most sprint retrospective attendees fall into one of two categories: those that see them as useful tools to review the good, the bad and the ‘could be betters’, and those that dread any upcoming retro for its time-wasting, blame-gaming inevitability.
Step-in: the retro moderator. This is the key role in keeping everyone together, blame-free and happy, making sure the sprint runs as effectively and efficiently as possible.
But, knowing this has to be the case and actually making it happen can be a very wide gulf to breach!
So without further ado, here’s GoRetro’s checklist and guide to running a truly kick-ass retro, each and every time!
Step 1: Hold a Sprint Review
Wait, what? Yes, a sprint review (not to be confused with a retrospective) is a nuanced, separate, but important process.
The review is there to handle the team’s actions, while the retro (always held afterwards) is there to handle how the process has taken place.
This is an important and very effective difference. Separating team actions from actual processes can lead to all kinds of wonderful (and productive) breakthroughs.
Step 2: Break the Ice
Once you've held the sprint review, it's time to go retro! And what better way to open it, than by breaking the ice!
But you should know that not all icebreakers are created equal. You need a set of icebreakers that will promote genuine bonding, without being cheesy, uncomfortable or time wasting.
Check out our list of epic icebreakers to keep your entire team open, happy and on-time!
Step 3: Choose Your Type of Sprint
This is a really individual decision: do you want your sprint to have a different structure each time (for example, to invite some fun guest speakers), or to keep things running as quickly and productively as possible?
Whichever way you prefer to do it, make sure your sprint starts promptly, and you have everything you need (for example, board, post-it notes, guest speakers ready and waiting, questions etc) prepared and ready to go once the last icebreaker has been answered.
Step 4: Discuss...and Watch Out for Blame
This is where the role of ‘retro moderator’ becomes a bit more like a referee! Keeping your sprints blameless is no easy task, and might take a lot of coercion before everyone buys-in and/or does it naturally.
Watch out for -
- Any clear accusations or blaming
- Too many ‘you’ statements (‘You should have’, ‘you did’...etc)
- Any raised voices or notable aggression (or passive aggression)
- Any friction or tension in the team
It is completely within your remit to stop the sprint and refocus it should you feel it has the potential to go off-track. This is not only preventing any potential unpleasantness, but also ‘reprogramming’ sprint attendees to behave in a truly blameless way.
Step 5: Define Action Items
Here’s the best part: getting to the action items.
You need to make sure that all action items are SMART:
To add to this, we’d suggest ensuring every action item has a name attached (sounds obvious, but you never know), and an ETA (same same).
Run your Sprint Retrospectives with GoRetro
The easiest way of all to ensure your sprints stay on task, that they are blameless and promote productivity for the next sprint is to use GoRetro.
It's a forever-free tool loved by mass dev teams worldwide, harnessing the power of fun to run your retros quickly, painlessly, and seamlessly.
Completely unlimited, completely free, it can be used with every size team and every size of project.
Check it out now, and see the difference it makes to running your own sprint retro effectively!