Retrospective, Scrum Gold Mine or Fool’s Gold?

“Retrospective meetings are the heart of agile methodologies. Scrum teams follow this religiously at the end of each iteration. ” – Agile World

A Quick History on the Sprint Retrospective

“Retrospectives initially were not a part of Scrum at all. There was supposed to be a retrospective part during the sprint review. Over the time it evolved into two separate sections: Sprint Review focused on what and Sprint Retrospective focused on how.” –

Iteration Retrospectives

“Iteration retrospectives are carried out at the end of the every iteration. The main goal is the daily habits improvement. By discussing of what went wrong, what went well team gets a chance to share the individual observations, aid daily problems and eventually grow as a constantly improving team. Not to loose the power of periodic retrospection it is very important for an iteration retrospective to result in a specific set of changes. Reviewing own work takes emotional energy and people would not be willing to invest it if it won’t result in a visible outcome.” –


Through personal experience with Agile and using a Retrospective as a method to “tune up” team performance and how we as a team handle outside interactions, I have found a few key things to focus on that help improve the Retrospective Experience.

  1. At the beginning of the Retrospective before diving into each independent story ask about any large issues that have been impeding the team. Any issues brought up at this time are most likely the main impediments the team has, as they are the freshest in memory of have left the sourest taste in the teams mouths.  Ex. Spikes due to support, Performance, Knowledge, Project Misdirection, etc.
  2. After identifying any general impediments move on to the existing impediments from previous retrospectives to make sure that you have been making progress with them, and that they have been in affect removed, or if a continuous issue, forward progress is being made. This gives visibility and helps to insure that issues aren’t being raised and falling to the wayside.
  3. After the General and Existing Impediments have been dealt with it is important that we now move on to story level impediments, which usually have a strong focus on process and learning through experience. Ex. How did this story go, and now that I know what I know, what could I have done to done this more efficiently or handle the issues that arose?
  4. It is critical that after you have gone through the impediments that you prioritize them and select the top impediment in which you need to remove first out of the teams way. This is important as taking on too many impediments at once will leave you ineffective at clearing them in a timely manner. So focus on what has the most value for the team, and work your way down the list. It is absolutely critical that you remove at least the top impediment from the list to guarantee forward process.

2 thoughts on “Retrospective, Scrum Gold Mine or Fool’s Gold?

  1. Mike says:

    I really like the 3rd point, and I feel that its something often missed. By looking at each story and ifentifying impediments you are more likely to see issues that are not more prominent at a global level.

  2. […] Retrospective, Scrum Gold Mine or Fool’s Gold? August 2008 1 comment 3 […]

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