Iteration Retrospective (Scaled Agile) format for your use

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Sep 10, 2020
Updated on
Apr 13, 2023
Table of Content

There is truth to the idea that there is always room for improvement, and so is the case with the Iteration Retrospective. This is so because each individual participating in an action is going to be giving a reaction based on a different reference point. 

What works for some, may not work for others. A successful iteration, or business project/product venture, seeks to have all its parts working in unison happily. 

It is therefore imperative to be constantly evaluating and re-evaluating business strategy from the viewpoints of each individual involved, and based on measurable results. 

How to Run an Iteration Retrospective TL;DR:

Iteration Retrospective looks back on previous iterations to gather ideas for improvement.


  1. Each member writes down whether idea/s worked or not in previous iterations, aiming to find a pattern among all members' responses
  2. Make a note of appreciation to any member/s who helped out
  3. Select one word to describe the iteration
  4. Rate the previous iteration from 1-5 and list what's needed to make the next a 5
  5. Discuss among all participants, record the answers, and keep track for next iteration retrospective for further improvement

What is the Iteration Sprint Retrospective?

This reflective sprint retrospective is used to look back on the previous iteration that was just completed and to derive new ideas from that in order to improve the process. This is a great way to assess how the past retrospective went and improve the next one.

It helps to instill the idea of constant improvement in your team, encouraging them to always keep working towards the future. This retrospective is broken down into two separate parts:

●      The quantitative review is when the entire team assesses whether or not they met the iteration goals. This is a binary measurement: a yes or a no. The team also looks at any other metric measurements they agreed to look at and analyze. The team looks at all of the measurable involved in the past iteration and assesses whether or not their goals have been met. From there, they can come up with improvements for the following iteration period.

●      The qualitative review involves the team assessing the prior retrospective and the improvement stories that they came up with beforehand. They then look at the current process they are using and come up with one or two things that can be improved for next time. These improvements should be specific to the following iteration so that it is not too broad.

The Iteration Sprint retro can be held in several different ways:

●      Individual: Everyone writes a Post-It and then they find a pattern as a group.

●      Appreciation: Note when someone has helped the team.

●      Conceptual: Choose one word to describe the iteration.

●      Rating: The team rates the iteration on a 1-5 scale and then brainstorms how to make the next one a 5.

●      Simple: Hold on open discussion and record the results.

What are the Iteration Sprint Retro format uses?

This agile retrospective format is used for finding ways of improving iterations and continuing with the success of your team. It is an excellent way to assess how the past iteration went and come up with improvements for the next one.

like most retrospectives, we basically want to answer the following:

  • What's gone well during the most recent project/sprint?
  • What could be improved next time?
  • What will be the corrected actionable focus for the following venture?
Iteration Retrospective Board
Iteration Retrospective Template

When Can the Agile Iteration Retrospective Format be Used?

The iteration retrospective format can and should be used after every project/product stage in order to find ways to improve. It should be held very soon after, while feedback and impressions, whether they are made of frustrations or triumphs, are still fresh. 

It is a strategy that is fantastic for team building, as each member gets their inputs heard and weighed in. Each individual will earn a sense of investment in their work, whether it be pride in their/the successes or determination for betterment. 

Who Should Participate in the Retrospective Meeting?

The Iteration Retrospective meeting can't take place if anyone is missing. All participating members must be present, along with anyone else who's feedback is relevant (customers, partners, management, etc). 

Any missing feedback can change the entire perspective reference points. 

A team agility coach will likely be leading the retrospective meeting, while most of the contribution comes directly from those directly involved in the labor of the project.

Project/product managers may also act as facilitators for meetings. 

A Basic and General Application of Iteration Retrospective Format

After a general brainstorm has taken place, and numbers have been crunched, it's worth committing to an easy 5-step application to really drive this strategy home and focus intent. 

Step 1: Taking a look at each step of the project's process, members vote on a sticky note whether or not they think it worked well, including in its application of any previous iterations before the most recent. 

Clear patterns/opinions of the majority should be noted for the future. This is a good opportunity for anonymous criticism and democracy.

Step 2: Take a moment to praise outstanding efforts from the previous project. Praise is crucial to team morale and to actualizing personal potential. Never skip this step. 

Step 3: Summarize the previous business venture that is under evaluation with one word. This word is a powerful reflection of what concepts dominated the experience. 

Step 4: The team then rates the experience from 1-5 and discusses what it would have taken for it to have been a strong 5. Ideally, a concise list with a few specific improvements takes shape. 

Step 5: This portion is dedicated to general team discussion and feedback. It is vital to take minutes for this portion to record all points, questions, answers, new ideas, and new goals. This will be revisited for progress review after the future venture is completed to assess whether these goals were actualized. 

The team must ask themselves, "now what?"

The goal when leaving the Iteration Retrospective meeting should be to have a few clear and focused intended improvements going into the next project/iteration with everyone on the same page. 

Pro Tip: Actionable items/ideas should be S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Why Running an Iteration Retrospective is Important

Taking the time to reflect on patterns, actions, or choices to assess what’s working (or not) and why is essential for flow, growth, and productivity. 

Contribution, praise, and feedback are also vital parts of an individual's morale and fulfillment within a workspace. Many heads are better than one, and running the retrospective meeting to brainstorm and refine with the dev team is optimal for efficiency in future projects. 

How to Run an Iteration Retrospective Format in GoRetro

GoRetro’s Online Retrospective tool makes it easy to run public or private agile team retrospectives. This central platform allows you to invite all team members to its virtual base. 

From there appointed admins can pick from many boards, dashboards, and interfaces to present and store data and analytics, take votes, send assignments, make lists, host discussions, etc. 

Boards are fit for many retrospective formats, including iteration (sprint) retrospective format. It is also fully customizable for fun and for function!

Whether in a board meeting room or on a virtual dashboard platform like GoRetro, scrum teams can benefit from organizational strategies like the Scaled Agile structures. 

Iteration Retrospective is one of its strongest feature formats and is sure to inspire any team while improving workplace ease. 

Iteration Retrospective Infographic
Iteration Retrospective Infographic

Interested in other retrospective formats?

From "What Went Well" to "Starfish retrospective", "Sailboat retrospective" and more, GoRetro's offers a wide variety of retrospective templates.
Pick up the best template for your team or create your own retro board using our custom option.

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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