10 Essential Tips to Maximize the Benefits of Your Sprint Retrospectives
When you participate in an agile team, your possible concern could be thinking about how to adapt yourself, or simpler said, your reaction on how things are going and how things can be improved. In this article, we present some tips regarding the benefits from the retrospective reviews at the end of sprints.
1. Act quickly
The retrospective should not be avoided when something is not going well (although the team members would want to omit it). To get benefit from this scrum meeting you need to identify the improvements or actions and make sure that you are guided by them. You should ensure yourself that you will follow the retrospective’s conclusions with some actions performed and you will approach the next retrospective with some actions taken and changes made.
2. Be creative
Most retrospectives repeat what was good and what was bad during the Sprint, (almost every time), and that could be boring. The retrospective should state these issues, but the team will feel bored if the same format is used after every Sprint. You should try different formats, like what we have learned from the past Sprint, or what we lacked in our work?
3. Involve the team
The retrospective should be attended by the entire team, including the scrum master and product owner. You could even invite a few other stakeholders on purpose if you have been working closely with them, or hold a retrospective with 2 teams at the same time if they collaborated together during the Sprint.
4. Go step by step
After an analysis, you may discover that the team has almost 20 different things that should be improved. To analyze all these items in a 1-hour retro-meeting will be at least a challenge. You can apply voting method here – assign each team member 3 votes and ask them to put their votes on the things that are most important to them; then you collect the votes and make priority list which will address the most important issues (as time allows). Don’t worry about the things that you won’t mention; you can only do so much at a time, and if the missing items are important – in 2 weeks you will put them in the next retrospective.
5. Try the lean approach
The lean meeting has its structure, but it does not have an agenda. On the start each team member proposes 1–2 issues for discussion and then the full team votes on the topics that they consider as most important to them. For each topic – the team will have a discussion for a fixed timebox of 5 minutes. You can use a clock for this – and after the 5 minutes – you can ask the team if they’d like to continue to discuss the same topic, or move on to the next one.
6. Use a tool for team collaboration
A good approach is to use a whiteboard to write notes during the brainstorming in retrospective reviews. However, this is not possible if you are working with a team split over several offices. In these cases, you can use some collaboration tools.
7. Glorify the successes
You should always spend at least a few minutes talking about the successful things. Make brief celebration on the issues which are important for the team. Bring cookies.
8. Identify the opened questions
If you are conducting the retrospective, understand that you don’t have all the answers (and keep quiet if you think you do). If you are a team leader, a scrum master, or an agile coach you may feel that you should have the answers to all the open issues. On the other side, it is better to ask the team about their opinion, rather than tell them yours all the time.
9. Agile benchmarks
As an agile team, you should always keep in mind the 4 core agile values. These values are: “working software should be delivered”, “interactions among people are more important than processes/ tools”, “good cooperation with the client is inevitable” and “resolve the changes in the next iterations”. You can try a brief introduction to the retrospective by asking people to mention something that happened in the last sprint about all these values.
10. Don’t blame the team members
Retro-meetings should be sincere, but you should not blame team members in the meeting. Keep a positive behavior and concentrate on important issues that the team can improve together by its work. If you think you should mention the problems, you may want to read out the retrospective main statement at the beginning of the meeting: “No matter of what we’ll find out, we understand and believe that everyone did the best job they could do, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.”