According to a 2016 study, the reason behind every organization's repetitive mistakes is the complex process of learning and forgetting. For example, when a company makes mistakes in the sales process, it learns where to focus in order to sell a new product effectively. However, if the company does not learn or forgets what it has learned, it will probably make the same mistakes again.
Therefore, companies need to conduct regular sprint retrospectives to reflect and learn from their past errors. Retrospectives help organizations identify areas to improve and change their business processes. As a result, companies can improve their overall performance and avoid repeating their mistakes.
What Is a Sprint Retrospective
A sprint retrospective refers to a meeting held at the end of a sprint to review the past sprint and identify potential improvements for the next one. The meeting is usually facilitated by the Scrum Master and attended by the Product Owner, developers, and other stakeholders.
The purpose of a sprint retrospective is to get everyone in the same room to discuss what went well, what didn't, and identify areas to improve on.
During a sprint retrospective, the following issues may be discussed:
- What are the sprint's objectives?
- What was successful throughout the sprint?
- What went wrong during the sprint?
- How were the sprint objectives met?
- What did you learn throughout the sprint?
- What suggestions do we have for future sprints?
How You Can Use Others’ Examples to Improve Your Sprint Retrospective Meeting
Holding a retrospective meeting must result in a fruitful and actionable outcome for the team. Often, this means looking for inspiration and examples from other teams' retrospective meetings.
There are some ways to use retrospective meeting examples to improve your own discussions:
1. Look for Ideas
When looking for retrospective ideas, it's helpful to see how other teams have tackled specific problems. For example, maybe you're trying to improve communication within your team, or are looking for ways to reduce blockers. Seeing how others have handled similar issues can give you ideas for possible solutions or even just how to frame the problem.
2. Understand Processes
It's also helpful to understand other teams' processes in their retrospective meetings. This can give you a better idea of what works well and what doesn't. You might find that a team uses a process you haven't considered before. Or, you might realize that what you've been using isn't as effective as you thought.
3. Compare and Contrast
Finally, you can use sprint retrospective examples to compare and contrast different teams. This can help you understand what works well in one team and not in another. You might also find that different teams have different priorities. For example, one team might focus on process improvement, while another team might focus on communication.
Things to Avoid During Sprint Retrospective Meetings
Any team running a retrospective is at risk of red flags. That's why you must watch out for these things to avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings in your retrospective meeting:
1. Don't be judgmental.
Your team is trying to identify areas for improvement, and it's important to do so constructively. Avoid any judgmental language that will make others feel attacked.
2. Avoid personal insults.
Just like being judgmental, insulting someone's work or personal abilities will only lead to hurt feelings and decreased productivity.
3. Stop trying to fix everything.
This is a meeting to identify areas of improvement, not to solve all the world's problems. Try to focus on one or two things that you can address soon.
4. Don't be defensive.
If someone offers an idea for improvement, try not to get defensive. Instead, listen to what they have to say and see if there's any truth to it.
5. Don't use the same format every time.
Your team's needs will change over time, so it's important to be flexible with your retrospective meeting format. Try different methods to see what works best for you.
The Different Sprint Retrospectives
As mentioned, you need to use various formats of sprint retrospectives so you can get the most out of the meeting. Furthermore, certain retrospective exercises may be a better fit for specific situations and circumstances.
What Went Well Examples
The What Went Well retrospective has been a staple of the Agile community. Under this retrospective, the team takes some time to reflect on the good things that happened during the sprint. This can be anything from meeting the sprint goal to a team member going above and beyond to help out.
The key benefit of this retrospective is that it allows the team to focus on the positives, improving team morale. Additionally, it can help build team cohesion by showing that members can work together to achieve a common goal.
For example, if you have successfully won over a client for your furniture services, a What Went Well retrospective might involve discussing the tactics that led to the success. This could include everything from the sales pitch to the delivery of the final product.
Another example is the successful implementation of a new process or tool. If there were no major issues with the roll-out, the team might want to focus on what made the implementation successful. This could involve looking at everything from the planning stages to the actual execution.
Mad Sad Glad Retrospective Examples
This type of retrospective is based on the "5 Whys" technique and helps team members share their thoughts and feelings about the project.
For instance, if you're using this retrospective to provide a solution for a customer’s complaint, you might have the following three columns:
- Mad: Things that made the customer angry.
- Sad: Things that made the customer sad or disappointed.
- Glad: Things that made the customer happy.
Then, you can brainstorm solutions for each problem.
For example, if the consumer was upset because of a defective product, develop a plan to evaluate items more thoroughly. If they were disappointed because of a late shipment, think of ways to increase communication with the delivery business. Finally, if they were pleased to get a coupon for their next purchase, develop a strategy to provide additional coupons and promos in your customer loyalty programs.
Agile Retrospective Start, Stop, Continue Examples
If your retrospective aims to review all your team members' actions and consequences, the start, stop, continue format is a good option.
You can use the following sprint retrospective template (with respective sample answers) to help get you started:
1. What started well during the sprint?
- We completed the user stories we set out to do.
- We were able to demo a working product to the client.
2. What stopped working during the sprint?
- We didn't meet our delivery date.
- We didn't finish all the user stories.
3. What should continue from the last sprint?
- We should continue tracking our progress using burndown charts.
- We should continue having regular demos with the client.
Once team members have answered these questions, have a group discussion to reach a consensus.
DAKI Retrospective Examples
DAKI, also known as the Drop, Add, Keep, Improve retrospective, is simple to understand and use. The steps are:
- Drop: Remove anything that is not working.
- Add: Add anything that is missing.
- Keep: Keep what is working well.
- Improve: Improve what can be improved.
The DAKI retrospective is an excellent tool for teams to focus on what is working and can be improved on. Monitoring and optimizing areas for improvement allows teams to continue enhancing their products and workflows.
Suppose your team is discussing a new clothing line. The team might have been working hard on its development and launch, but some areas might have to be changed. So, you hold a DAKI retrospective wherein your team considers dropping certain designs that don’t appeal to the market, adding new color choices, keeping styles that adhere to your vision, and improving marketing plans.
Once you have identified what needs to be done, your team will better understand how to move forward. For example, team members may conduct better research into the target market, revise design elements, or work with a different fabric supplier.
Establishing a sprint retrospective helps your business improve communication and collaboration. By understanding how your team works and addressing any issues that may have arisen, you can continue to improve your business processes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the duration of a sprint retrospective?
A sprint retrospective typically lasts one hour.
How do I go about conducting a sprint retrospective?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue, as the optimal technique to conduct a sprint retrospective may differ depending on the needs and preferences of your team. However, some recommendations are setting an agenda, asking team members to participate, and using a feedback tool, such as a dot voting exercise.
What should I do if my team refuses to attend the sprint retrospective?
Try to figure out why your team doesn't want to participate in the sprint retrospective. It's likely that they don't see the benefit of retrospectives or that they don't feel that they’re being heard in these sessions. Find methods to make the retrospective more valuable to the team, or offer them a voice in the meeting.