Sprint Retrospective



Anyone who wants to attend should be able to show up.

The Sprint Retrospective is the private end of the sprint. It’s for the team to improve their process moving forward. Trust is essential for teams to really feel free to have what can sometimes be hard conversations. As such, this meeting is strictly for the team and the Scrum Master, though the team is welcome to invite others from time to time if they’d find it helpful.



The Retrospective is confidential. Whatever happens in the retrospective stays in the retrospective, unless the team agrees to share it.

The team should feel free to discuss whatever they like in this meeting. The Retrospective should be a safe container for team members to talk about whatever they feel they need to discuss. That said, the Retrospective should produce actionable items that will be dealt with moving forward.



The purpose of the Retrospective is to tell people what they did wrong during the last sprint.

The purpose of the retrospective is to produce actionable items the team would like to address in the next sprint with the aim of process improvement. While team members may share with each other what they thought they did wrong, this is not the goal. The focus should be on improvement moving forward, not blame looking back.



Your Scrum Master should use the same exercise for the Retrospective every time for consistency.

While it’s recommended that retrospectives are facilitated using Esther Derby’s 5 steps: 1) set the stage, 2) gather data, 3) generate insights, 4) decide what to do, 5) close the retrospective — the actual activity used for facilitating these 5 steps should be changed often to help teams come up with fresh points of view. Use the same retrospective format over and over again and teams stop coming up with useful insights due to boredom.



The Retrospective is one of the 3 important Inspect and Adapt loops in Scrum.

The Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review, and the Retrospective are all points at which teams review progress and make adjustments as needed. In the Daily Scrum, we Inspect and Adapt our work. In the Sprint Review, we inspect and adapt our product/release plan. In the Retrospective, we inspect and adapt our process.



Trust is essential for a good retrospective.

For a team to become high performing, they must be able to have hard conversations with each other. This can’t happen unless there is trust on the team. This trust is built over time, and can be promoted with facilitation by the Scrum Master.



A Sprint Retrospective is optional for a highly performing team.

Without this built-in inspect and adapt loop at the end of every sprint, it’s hard for a team to make the process improvements required to become highly performing, or for a highly performing team to continue being so.



Retrospectives can benefit from snacks.

As humans, one of the most social things we can do together is share a meal. Having snacks, even just a shared pastry or some popcorn, can help break us out of our normal “work mode” and encourage us to share more openly. Think of “a relaxed dinner with friends” and the conversations that ensue.



The Scrum Master should always be the one to facilitate the Retrospective.

While traditionally this meeting is facilitated by the Scrum Master, any team member should be able to facilitate if they wish. Changing facilitators, just like changing the activity the team uses for the retrospectives, can help keep the team from falling into a rut.



No one but the team members should ever be invited to the Retrospective.

Since this meeting is for and by the team, they may, from time to time, decide it’s useful to have an outside party attend.

This Facilitation Guide is also available as a FREE download in PDF format.


Don’t feel comfortable facilitating this workshop for your team? Adam and his team are standing by to run this course for you in person.

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