The sprint retrospective is where we take the time to assess how we did and plan for improvement.  It is essential for getting better.  Unfortunately, running this activity can be challenging and easy to underestimate for its value.  Here are some suggestions for converting the time spent in a retrospective into action items for improvement.

Initial Challenges

All teams start out working on how they communicate.  That is just the nature of being human beings.  It is not different in the professional world.  We have processes to clarify and terminology to agree upon.  That means an early sprint retrospective will likely have this “low hanging fruit” to address.  These items may seem trivial or surprising for an experienced team.  However, they are important issues to address to set the stage for future metrics and improvement.

Quick fixes are good for earning early victories.  However, it is more important for us to address issues that build habits.  When we do things right early and often, they become habits and even traits of our team.

Gather The Details

Another issue that often shows up in an early sprint retrospective is a lack of details in task descriptions.  That includes validation criteria and how we determine whether we are “done” with an item.  Therefore, this information is critical to us.  It impacts how we document progress and can help avoid rework on features that are too loosely defined.  Fortunately, these areas for improvement show up early and are best when addressed sooner rather than later.

Do Not Skip The Positives

There is a tendency for us to focus on negatives when we want to improve.  However, that is not a productive way to look at it.  We need to continue doing the things we did well.  Therefore, it is worth our time to list those out as part of our assessment.  These items are the ones we want to keep doing well, and we should see them reoccur from sprint to sprint.  If something falls off that positive list, then we might want to take a look at it before it becomes a negative.

Learn More About Scrum

Challenge of The Week: Take some time for a personal retrospective and make plans for getting better in your next sprint.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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