Sprint retrospectives are a great way to promote a culture of continuous improvement and open communication within an agile team. Retrospectives can help your team identify problems, celebrate wins, and create actionable plans to lead your team to success.
What Is A Sprint Retrospective?
Sprint retrospectives usually happen at the end of a sprint. Scrum.org suggest that the sprint retrospective should occur after the sprint review and prior to the next sprint planning session.
In a sprint retrospective, the team discusses:
- What went well in the sprint
- What could be improved
- Action items to improve the next sprint
Commonly a facilitator is chosen to guide the team through each of the 3 topics of discussion. The team is asked to be open and honest when providing feedback, with the main goal of a sprint retrospective to lead to improvements in the next sprint rather than assigning blame.
How Do Sprint Retrospectives Benefit Agile Teams?
They Promote Open Communication
Retrospectives provide a regular opportunity for your team to provide feedback which promotes a culture of open communication. By asking the team to celebrate wins (what went well in the sprint) as well as what could be improved, sprint retrospectives encourage your team to share and discuss their opinions.
Effective teamwork begins and ends with communicationMike Krzyzewski, Duke University
Due to their regular cadence, sprint retrospectives also allow your team to “nip problems in the bud” by identifying them earlier on when they may not be as critical and preventing them from becoming major.
Celebrate and Acknowledge Wins
Too often, organisations can fall into the trap of rallying around crisis or harder times and neglecting to acknowledge wins. One of the main reasons employees leave their job is that they feel unappreciated, with a Gallup poll revealing that over 65% of employees admitted to not having received any form of recognition in the last year.
The first step of a retrospective is to ask your team to identify and celebrate wins in the last sprint. Wins can be big like milestones or deadlines being reached, or small like a team member being very helpful to another team member. By encouraging your team to uncover wins and recognise the efforts of other team members, sprint retrospectives are a fantastic tool for boosting morale on agile teams.
Additionally, sprint retrospectives promote “peer-to-peer” recognition rather than recognition from management. A 2018 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that peer-to-peer recognition is 36% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.
Foster’s Continuous Improvement
The last step of a sprint retrospective is to create action items based on the things that the team identified as going well in the sprint and things could be improved. Each action item is aimed at improving a particular area of the team, and is assigned an owner and has a date committed to it.
Business is largely a game of inchesChris Myers, Forbes
Sprint retrospectives fuel a culture of continuous improvement by regularly providing ways for teams to analyze and identify problems. Incremental changes, workarounds to blockers, and prevention of repeated mistakes are common outcomes from sprint retrospectives.
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