Scrum Events #5 Sprint Retrospective

Scrum Events #5 Sprint Retrospective

June 25, 2020 6 min to read

Let’s talk about my favourite and last Scrum Event - Sprint Retrospective. I described when it is happening and what is the purpose of that event.

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Table of Contents


    In my last posts you’ve learned about:

    • Sprint

    Today I would like to describe the last event in the Scrum Events series - Sprint Retrospective.

    Definition and length

    Definition in the Scrum Guide:

    The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint.

    As you can see, this event similarly to Sprint Review is focused on the inspection. The main difference between Sprint Review and Retrospective is a subject. Sprint Review is about review and inspection of the increment, while Sprint Retrospective is dedicated to inspection of the Scrum Team itself.

    Regarding length and occurence of the event, based on the Scrum Guide:

    The Sprint Retrospective occurs after the Sprint Review and prior to the next Sprint Planning. This is at most a three-hour meeting for one-month Sprints. For shorter Sprints, the event is usually shorter.

    Who should attend the event?

    Scrum Team - Development Team, Product Owner and Scrum Master. Scrum Master needs to make sure that event is organized and everyone understands the purpose. Before we jump into the purpose, let’s find the Sprint Retrospective in the running analogy that I used in the whole series. I believe that Sprint Retrospective is like the moment when you finish sprinting and you start analyzing your behaviour, speed and everything else that could impact your running. Before you will start preparing for the next run, you want to know what was working for you and what should be adjusted to perform better.



    Following the Scrum Guide:

    The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to:

    • Inspect how the last Sprint went with regards to people, relationships, process, and tools;
    • Identify and order the major items that went well and potential improvements; and,
    • Create a plan for implementing improvements to the way the Scrum Team does its work.

    Sprint Retrospective gives the opportunity for the Scrum Team to observe their actions and learn from experience. It’s time when they can analyze:

    • What went well during the Sprint? - What they didn’t like and should be improved? - What solutions can be implemented to make their work more effective?

    Scrum Master should encourage the Team to improve processes and practices to make their work more fun and effective. The continuous improvement is the important part of the Scrum. Making changes and adapting to the current situation is necessary in order to increase product quality. In my opinion it is also crucial for the team and personal development of each team member.

    What is the main purpose of the Sprint Retrospective in my opinion? I believe it is an honest discussion about the Sprint and ideas for improvement. I would like to emphasize how important transparency and honesty are during that meeting. It is not possible to make real improvement without honest opinions of team members.


    Let me describe the main 3 parts of the Sprint Retrospective.

    First of all this event is a great opportunity to celebrate successes and remind all positive aspects of the Sprint. It’s perfect time to appreciate what other team members did and how they did it. This approach helps to build a motivated and collaborative team. People keep forgetting about positive aspects of their lives and have a tendency to focus on the negative situations. Without knowledge about successes and good solutions, the Scrum Team cannot keep growing. They need to know what is working for them and what they would like to continue doing.


    2) Did not go well

    After discussion about positive aspects of the Sprint is time to face with everything that didn't go well. The important part is to create the safety space for team members to express what they think. The only way to achieve it, is creation of a blame-free and full of trust environment.

    Let’s remember that during Sprint Retrospective, team members don’t focus only on their work. It’s time for discussion also about relationships or conflicts if they appeared. I would say that is the most challenging bit that they can struggle with. Talking about processes and tools is much easier than telling someone that we didn’t like their behavior or attitude. During this kind of discussion the Scrum Team needs to remember about respect to everyone and openness to feedback.

    Improvements & ideas

    Once the major items that didn’t go well are identified, the Scrum Team should try to find the best improvements that can be implemented. That’s a time for brainstorming and sharing all ideas with the team. Team members don’t need to focus on the solutions for the existing issues, but they can suggest any ideas that will make their work and relationships better. If it’s possible, they can adjust Definition of Done considering the organizational standards and processes.

    When all improvements are listed, the Scrum Team needs to decide what will be implemented in the next Sprint and they should include them in the Sprint Backlog.



    There are a lot of examples how Sprint Retrospective can be facilitated. I didn’t include them here, because I wanted to start from describing the main idea and purpose of the meeting first. I will definitely write a post fully focused on the retrospective ideas.

    The most important information about Sprint Retrospective:

    • It’s an event focused on inspection and adaptation of the Scrum Team itself.

    • Time: 3 hours for the one month Sprint.

    • When is it happening? After Sprint Review and before the next Sprint Planning.

    • The purpose: inspect what went well, what didn’t go well and what should be improved in regards to people, relationships, processes and tools.

    • It’s an opportunity to celebrate successes and appreciate others' work.

    • Discussion about items that didn’t go well should be done without blaming others, but with openness, trust and respect to everyone.

    • During Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team should try to find the best solutions to solve their issues and improvements that will make their work and relationships better.

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