Blog POST 3: What is an Agile Sprint Retrospective?

Sprint Retrospective

Save those tears!

The team successfully bangs out their Backlog (see previous blog) after pulling a week’s worth of 15 hour days. Time for a break? Not yet! After the sprint, while everything is still fresh in their weary minds, the developers, Scrum Master, and product owner get back together for a Sprint Retrospective. During the Sprint Retrospective the team addresses what they should keep doing, what they should stop, and what they should start.

First, what should they keep doing? That is what the team nailed so well that they should keep doing throughout the remainder of the Sprints. This could be something easy like great communication during the Scrums (quick 15 minute meetings). Or it could be something much different, like pizza on Fridays for improved moral. In reality what should be continued should be quite easy to see for the team. Something had to work for the Sprint and that something should be continued throughout the project length.

Next is what should stop doing. What is the team doing that is hindering them during the Sprint? Chris Mann and Frank Maurer write “During the third sprint retrospective both the customers and developers agreed that there would be no more extended sprints as they had caused too many problems in terms of the developers not knowing what they needed to do.” This example illustrates the power of a Sprint Retrospective. The team is forced to discuss their work and are able to quickly find a solution to their woes.  In other development models the team might not stop and analyze their progress till much later in their development cycle.  This, of course, would cause unnecessary trouble for them because they would keep doing things that are hurting them. During my illustrious career in retail how I wish we had something like this. It could have saved many long days and un-needed angst.

The third and last idea that the team talks about during the Sprint Retrospective is what the team should start doing. Should they start talking more? Should they start having beer on pizza Fridays? After a successful Sprint there might not be much that the team needs to start doing, they are already doing it! But if the team is left in defeat then they really need to collect their thoughts and try something new.

A Sprint Retrospective is a key piece for the Agile Development Method. Through it, a team can explore their Sprint and come up with ideas on how to improve themselves. Everyone takes part in the Sprint Retrospective, product owner, Sprint Master, and the development team. Together they can come up with ideas to continuously improve their work, moral, and speed of completion.

Image courtesy of :  http://www.we-heart.com/upload-images/lichtensteinaretrospective1.jpg

Ambler, S., & Holitza, M. (2012). Agile For Dummies®, IBM Limited Edition. Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774: John Wiley & Sons.

Mann, C., & Maurer, F. (n.d.). A Case Study on the Impact of Scrum on Overtime and Customer Satisfaction. Retrieved from http://ase.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/uploads/Publications/MannMaurerAU2005.pdf

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