What is a Sprint Retrospective?

The sprint retrospective technique asks 4 basic questions that gets the team thinking about the outcomes of the last sprint, and what actions they should focus on next.  While it is straightforward, it sends the basic message that you are listening and geared for improvement. Based on the book by Esther Derby, Diana Larsen and Ken Schwaber, this tried and true method acts as an engine tune-up that keeps your team working at peak performance. Held regularly, it uncovers issues with the software development life cycle and gives your team a way to solve it together.
Rather than running a post mortem, regular sprint retrospectives  that are short, sharp and documented means that you can quickly make changes before it’s too late. Much like steering a big ship, it’s a lot easier to make small changes en route to the destination than finding out at the end you have docked in the wrong port. Unlike debriefs or post-mortems is it is intended to have a more positive and proactive focus.

Sprint Retrospective Questions

What went well?

Focuses on success and things that people are proud of both from a technical or teamwork aspect.

What went less well?

Aims to identify areas for improvement, gaps in processes or misalignment.

What do we want to try next?

Creates a forward-looking perspective and encourages the team to problem solve.

What puzzles us?

Identifies potential challenges, hurdles or barriers that should be addressed in a timely manner.

The good news is that this format is relatively safe due to its objective nature. Running your meetings digitally saves time and also records ideas, votes and action items. No more having to decipher handwriting and retyping notes.

How to run an Sprint Retrospective in TeamRetro

Start Agile Retrospective

Start your retrospective in a click
Log into TeamRetro and choose your sprint retrospective template.

Invite Your Team
Invite your team easily – no separate accounts needed
Send an email invite, a link or add to your Slack channel to get people started quickly. SSO options are also available.
Agile Retrospective Brainstorm
Time to brainstorm
Each team member can now brainstorm individually under each topic. This avoids group think and allows everyone to have their say. They can indicate when they have finished, or you can set a timer so that you know when to move onto the next stage.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Group related ideas
Drag and drop  related ideas to combine them for easier voting. TeamRetro can also automatically suggest ideas that are similar, saving you and your team valuable time.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Vote independently to avoid anchoring
Each team member votes on what they would most like to discuss further. The results won’t be displayed to everyone until you advance to Discuss.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Discuss the most important things first
You and your team discuss the top voted ideas and can capture deep dive comments.  Presentation mode allows you to walk your team through ideas one-by-one and keep the conversation focused.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Review and create actions

Easily facilitate discussion by bringing everyone onto the same page. Create action items, assign owners and due dates that will carry through for review at the next retrospective.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

Share the results
Once you have finished your retro, you can share the results and actions with the team. Your retro will be stored so you can revisit them as needed.

Congratulations! You’ve just run a retro like a boss.
Want more? Read on.

Ideas and tips for your sprint retrospectives

  • Set the stage. Welcome people and set the tone of the meeting and give them a safe space to share ideas. A great way to do this is to ask “Can we begin now?” and waiting for people to begin.
  • Use the sprint retrospective format for new teams to introduce them to the agile agenda.
  • Make brainstorming anonymous to allow people to feel safe when contributing their thoughts. People will feel more engaged when they feel like they can air what they need to.
  • Use the concepts of brain writing – give people “silent time” to write, read and respond to what is being presented. It might just be a minute that can make all the difference.
  • Use the way teams vote to manage culture. You’ll get interesting insights when people vote individually. The last thing you want is the sheep mentality where people simply follow what has already been done.
  • A thank you goes a long way. Give a shout out to the team at the end of the meeting.
  • In face to face meetings, doing things digitally allows you to collect ideas, vote and comment anonymously, and saves manual collation. If running your meeting digitally, use a video conferencing tool to give that personal touch.
  • Rotate the role of facilitator. Changing the role can break the routine.
  • Follow up with an action list that you will check off at the start of the next team retro.