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Meeting Tips

Sprint Retrospective - Agenda & Tips (Free Template)

Published
November 27, 2023
Read time
6
Min Read
Last updated
March 21, 2024
Jenna Pitkälä
Sprint Retrospective - Agenda & Tips (Free Template)
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You're almost done with your sprint, and now you have to reflect on lessons learned. It's time for the sprint retrospective meeting.

But what actually happens there?

In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the essentials of the sprint retrospective, more specifically:

  • What is a Sprint Retrospective?
  • How to Plan Sprint Retrospective Meetings
  • Sprint Retrospective Agenda Template
  • Challenges in Sprint Retrospective (+ Solutions)
  • Best Practices for Sprint Retrospectives Meetings

What Is a Sprint Retrospective?

A sprint in the Scrum framework is a set time period during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review.

Sprints typically last from one week to one month, though two weeks is a common duration. During a sprint, the team works on a set of items from the product backlog to move a project forward.

The sprint retrospective meeting — or 'retro' —  is an opportunity for the team to reflect on the sprint process. It allows the team to discuss what went well, what didn't, and how they can improve the next sprint.

The length of the sprint retrospective can vary depending on the length of the sprint and the needs of the team, but a good rule of thumb is to allocate about 45 minutes for a two-week sprint. For shorter sprints, the meeting may be shorter, and for longer sprints, it may be longer, up to an hour and a half.

Attendees

The Sprint Retrospective is an essential Scrum ceremony, and as per the Scrum Guide, the full Scrum team should attend​​. This includes:

  • Development Team Members: They are the core participants, actively engaging in discussing their experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement.
  • Scrum Master: Facilitates the meeting, ensuring the discussion remains productive and focused, and helps identify and address any obstacles.
  • Product Owner: May attend to provide insights into the product backlog and understand the team's perspective on the sprint.

Stakeholders are optional and may be invited occasionally for additional perspectives, especially if the retrospective covers broader areas affecting the product or service. However, their presence is not mandatory, and it's noted that their attendance could potentially affect the transparency of the discussion.

How to Plan Sprint Retrospective Meetings

Let AI Handle Notetaking

For a sprint retrospective meeting to be more effective, wouldn't it be great if someone or something could handle notes for us so that we could just focus on the discussion?

That's not only possible, it's also easy to do by utilizing AI tools like Wudpecker.

By automatically capturing and summarizing discussions, Wudpecker ensures that no crucial details are missed.

Having clear, concise summaries to refer back to later helps ensure that lessons learned are not just fun facts to be forgotten but will actually be acted upon.

Wudpecker...

  • Automatically joins and records your meetings, so there's no repeated setup
  • Summarizes the whole meeting's discussions and action items for you, whether it's online or in-person
  • Takes max 10 minutes after the meeting to give you the summary (but usually 1-2)
  • Is compatible with Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams
  • Keeps record of notes from any previous meeting where Wudpecker was a participant.
  • Allows multiple people to have their own Wudpecker recorder in the meeting at the same time and receive their own notes in their account afterward
  • Lets you share the notes to other people (possible to integrate automated sharing via Slack or Notion)

Here's how you set it up:

  1. Sign up for Wudpecker.
  2. Make sure your meeting shows up in your account and the notetaker is able to join it.
  3. Admit the notetaker in your virtual meeting.
  4. Access the meeting notes and transcription shortly after the meeting in your account. They stay safely stored in your account unless you remove them.

Create a Trustful Environment for Feedback

For the sprint retrospective to be productive, establishing a trustful environment is key. This ensures that all team members feel comfortable to share openly and honestly:

  • Start by setting clear expectations for conduct, emphasizing confidentiality and mutual respect.
  • Implement an anonymous pre-meeting survey as a mechanism to gather honest input, especially from those who may be less inclined to speak up during the meeting.
  • This survey not only helps in preparing the retrospective meeting agenda but also contributes to a supportive setting where everyone's perspective is valued.

Gather Essential Data

Collecting data before the sprint retrospective helps the scrum team to identify patterns, recognize achievements, and pinpoint areas needing improvement:

  • Provide sprint metrics to offer an objective baseline for discussions.
  • Review customer feedback and issue logs to bring to light the customer's experience with the sprint's deliverables.
  • Encourage team members to note down their experiences during the sprint, allowing the collection of diverse insights that can lead to identifying effective work processes and areas for potential improvements.

Sprint Retrospective Meeting Agenda Template

A well thought out agenda is key to a productive sprint retrospective meeting.

Why? Your sprint retrospective meetings can become more structured and efficient, leading to meaningful insights and improvements for your team.

Feel free to use and edit the template below!

Challenges in Sprint Retrospective (+ Solutions)

Sprint retrospectives, while invaluable, can face several challenges. Recognizing and addressing these can significantly enhance their effectiveness.

Lack of Participation

A sprint retrospective thrives when all team members contribute, yet sometimes individuals may hold back, unsure or unwilling to share in the presence of their peers. This hesitancy can stem from a variety of factors, from introverted personalities to a lack of confidence in the value of their input.

Solutions:

  • Implement a round-robin technique where each team member speaks in turn, ensuring equal opportunity for contribution.
  • Introduce ice-breaker activities that encourage informal sharing and build rapport among team members.
  • Encourage the scrum master or facilitator to actively moderate the discussion, gently guiding the conversation to involve quieter team members.
  • Use digital collaboration tools that allow team members to post thoughts anonymously or vote on topics to discuss.
  • Schedule time for individual reflection during the meeting, allowing team members to gather their thoughts before sharing.

Focusing Only on Negatives

Retrospective meetings can unintentionally become sessions where teams fixate on what went wrong, bypassing what was accomplished successfully. This one-sided view can demotivate the team and overshadow valuable learning opportunities from positive outcomes.

Solutions:

  • Start with a 'wins' section where each team member can highlight something that went well.
  • Frame challenges as opportunities for growth, asking how the team can leverage their experiences to improve future sprints.
  • Ensure that for every negative point raised, a positive aspect of the previous sprint is also discussed, maintaining a balanced perspective.
  • Recognize individuals and their efforts to reinforce a sense of achievement and motivation for the next sprint.

Vague Action Items

Action items lacking specificity and clear responsibility can lead to confusion and inaction, undermining the sprint retrospective's purpose.

Solutions:

  • Formulate each action item using the SMART criteria to ensure clarity and tractability.
  • Assign a team member as the action owner for each item, and agree upon a follow-up mechanism to track progress.
  • Discuss and agree on the expected outcomes of each action item, providing a clear vision of success.
  • Document action items in a shared and accessible location, facilitating transparency and collective ownership.

Recurring Issues

When the same issues are repeatedly highlighted in retrospective meetings without resolution, it can indicate systemic problems that are not being effectively addressed.

Solutions:

  • Employ root cause analysis techniques like the '5 Whys' to delve deeper into persistent problems.
  • Allocate dedicated time during or outside of retrospective meetings for problem-solving workshops focused on these issues.
  • Review the list of previous action items at the start of each retrospective to assess progress and hold the team accountable for implementing improvements.
  • If certain issues continue to recur, consider whether there are resource or knowledge gaps that need to be addressed, and seek assistance from outside the team if necessary.

Conclusion

Sprint retrospective is an vital part of the scrum process. The key takeaway is to evolve from reflection to action, turning challenges into opportunities for growth.

However, it's easier said than done. That's why we've showed how to plan and structure a retro, taking into account how to solve common pitfalls.

FAQs

What is the agenda of a sprint retrospective?

The agenda of a sprint retrospective includes:

  1. Clarifying the Goal: Establishing the meeting's focus.
  2. Checking In: Team members share their perspectives.
  3. Reviewing the Last Sprint: Evaluating previous objectives and outcomes.
  4. Identifying Obstacles & Solutions: Discussing challenges and brainstorming improvements.
  5. Setting Action Items: Outlining specific steps for future sprints.
  6. Closing the Meeting: Summarizing takeaways and concluding positively.

What are the 4 questions for a sprint retrospective?

The four questions for a sprint retrospective are:

What went well? – identifying successes and effective practices.

What didn’t go well? – acknowledging challenges and areas of struggle.

What have we learned? – extracting lessons and insights from experiences.

What still puzzles us? – pinpointing unresolved issues or questions that need further exploration.

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Sprint Retrospective Agenda

Date: [Insert Date]
Time: [Insert Start Time] - [Insert End Time]
Location: [Specify if it's an in-person or virtual meeting and provide necessary details or links]

Meeting Purpose:
[Clearly articulate the overarching goal or objective of the meeting]

1. Clarifying the Goal (5 minutes)

  • Defining the objective of the meeting.
  • Making sure everyone understands the purpose and expected outcomes.
  • Ensuring participants are ready for a constructive meeting and grasp the positive approach.

2. Checking In (10 minutes)

  • Facilitating icebreakers.
  • Allowing team members to share their current state of mind or expectations.

3. Reviewing the Last Sprint (20-30 minutes)

  • Reflecting on whether the sprint's objectives were met.
  • Discussing successful strategies and areas for improvement.

4. Identifying Obstacles & Solutions (30-40 minutes)

  • Providing a space for team members to voice challenges encountered.
  • Collaboratively seeking potential solutions and improvements.

5. Setting Action Items (20 minutes)

  • Formulating concrete steps from the discussions.
  • Delegating responsibilities and setting deadlines for accountability.

6. Closing the Meeting (5 minutes)

  • Summarizing key outcomes and action items.
  • Concluding on an uplifting note, with a motivational close or team-building activity.
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