Note: This article assumes a basic familiarity with the iterative Agile/Scrum process.
The retrospective meeting is a vital part of any sprint. It’s also the final event of the sprint. You’ve had your Vision meeting, prioritized the backlog, created a MVP, and reviewed it with the stakeholders. If it was a one-week sprint that ran from Monday morning to Friday afternoon, this retrospective meeting would be the last meeting you have before the weekend.
The retrospective meeting is where the production team gets together to talk about how the project went. Specifically, how well the project did or did not meet its stated goals and how the team can improve the next sprint. The Scrum Master facilitates the meeting and the rest of the sprint team, including the Product Owner and testers, participate. Typically a brief meeting, clocking in between 15 and 30 minutes, it’s extremely valuable especially for ongoing projects with future sprints in the pipeline.
Maintaining a healthy team environment that encourages good conflict is important, so members aren’t afraid to share the problems encountered during the sprint. It’s a lot easier to solve problems that have been stated than ones that haven’t.
Here are three retrospective meeting formats to consider:
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This exercise is more commonly held either before or during the Vision meeting. Still, it can be revisited at the end of the sprint as well in the retrospective meeting.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
This exercise identifies what went well, what didn’t go well, and what went very poorly. It can be a fun exercise and helps prioritize problems.
Start, Stop, Continue
In this exercise, the sprint team makes recommendations for things they should start doing, stop doing, or continue doing to improve the next sprint. This is our preferred meeting format. It helps us go beyond simpler exercises like “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” by baking in recommendations for actions to take to improve the next sprint, while maintaining the things we already did well.
Regardless of which exercise you do at the end of your sprint, try to collectively reflect on the sprint you just completed and look to improving future sprints. No matter how awesome your sprint team is, there’s always room for improvement. Mix and match exercises and do what works best for your team.