Sprint Reviews vs Sprint Retrospectives
Think sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives are one and the same? You might have another thing coming!
Actually, although technically they mean the same thing, sprint reviews vs sprint retrospectives are actually two very different scrum events, of equal importance!
Wait, What? What You Need to Know About Sprint Reviews Vs Sprint Retrospectives
While in usual, every-day occurrences, the words ‘review’ and ‘retrospective’ would mean the same thing, when it comes to a sprint these are divided into separate events:
- The ‘review’ handles the team and stakeholder actions
- The ‘retrospective’ handles how the process has taken place
One is more about the people involved, and one’s more about the process.
Sounds confusing? It needn’t be. Here’s a quick rundown of the goals, structure, and ideology behind both sprint reviews vs sprint retrospectives!
The Sprint Review
Sprint reviews are held at the end of each Scrum sprint. All of the key people and stakeholders should be present for it to be truly effective.
It could last anywhere from 1-4 hours per sprint, depending on the length of the sprints taking place. They're usually divided into 3 important sections:
- Demonstration: the development team demonstrates what has been achieved during the sprint, or, for less technical products, the product owner might be the lead person demonstrating results.
- Discussion: stakeholders give their feedback on the demonstration that’s taken place, and ask questions, discuss progress, or provide some further business context to development teams.
- Product backlog update: this is where the preparation for the next sprint comes into focus! The team will likely start prioritizing the rest of the product backlog, adding new information (such as user stories), properties or descriptions, linked tasks and so on.
The objective of the sprint review is to discuss the sprint goal, the product, and how the sprint can be improved for next time.
The Sprint Retrospective
Sprint retrospectives are also conducted once a sprint has finished, and after the sprint review has taken place.
But - that’s where the similarities end! The sprint retrospective is just for the scrum team itself and focuses on how to improve their way of working for the next sprint.
Some of the most important questions to ask include:
- What went well last time, and why?
- What could have been better, and how?
- What do we need to do to improve the next sprint (including action items).
The ultimate goal of a sprint retrospective is to get honest, open feedback from every team member, as well as an action list, to improve the next sprint. They might be shorter than sprint reviews and even held once for every week of a sprint.
The effectiveness of the sprint retrospective is entirely up to the team involved: for example, if one member explains how they didn't meet their goals due to sudden and unexpected extra work coming in, it would help the rest of the team going forward in prioritizing tasks.
Sprint Reviews Vs Sprint Retrospectives: the Bottom Line
While there are quite a few similarities between sprint reviews vs sprint retrospectives, in that they:
- both take place after a sprint has finished
- they’re focused on issues, not people
- are there to make the next sprint more effective
….there’s still a lot more to these two key scrum events.
Focusing on the key elements (such as how to make the next sprint bigger, better, faster, and stronger) and avoiding apportioning blame is key to both of these events.
In both, the team needs to feel:
- That they’re in a safe and supportive environment, without fear of blaming or retribution
- That anything discussed (problems, challenges, failures, and more) are focused on issues encountered, not the actual people involved.
- Fresh from the past sprint: both sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives need to happen quickly after the end of the sprint, so it's fresh in all participants’ minds.
Starting off with some fun icebreakers for the team to ease them in, and keeping an eye on the agenda and time are two surefire ways to make both sprint retrospectives and sprint reviews effective (and even fun!) way to keep teams engaged and motivated.