How To Run A Sprint Retrospective Meeting That Rocks

Get career resources, insights, and an encouraging nudge from our experts. Note that you can try these 5 retrospective activities for free on Neatro. In his book, Surviving Object-Oriented Projects, Cockburn informally described how working incrementally and regrouping after each increment could help project development. Arrange for a large whiteboard, dry-erase markers and colored square post-it notes.

definition of project retrospective

Designed to invite team members to express themselves on a given set of themes, the Team Radar visually represents the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Combine the Team spirit responses with the comments from Ideas to determine which actions your team members want to take. Note that many Scrum Masters select this facilitation technique for recurring retrospectives as well. For the sake of brevity and efficiency, let’s focus on examples of virtual retrospective activities – which can, however, easily be conducted in the office as well.

Taking time to show their appreciation for a job well done and to praise one another is another way to bolster morale. Being transparent and open about what happened during projects will create an environment of trust within your team. Allowing them the freedom and the opportunity to contribute to the discussion in a safe and constructive environment will build team unity and collaboration. Furthermore, providing them with an open and welcoming forum will underline that their ideas and suggestions will be taken seriously and considered. Are you on track to hit your goals that were defined at the beginning of the project? Are key stakeholders collaborating effectively to make sure the project stays on track?

Document who will do what by when, and when the team can check back to see results. For shorter projects or for mid-project retrospectives, you can ask the group to discuss the facts. The Project Retrospective dedicates time to reviewing a completed project and learning from both the successes and the failures so the team and organization can improve how they work going forward. These meetings are often led by product management as they’re the most cross-functional role in the organization and have a broader view of what happened during the project.

Run delightful meetings with Fellow

We recommend running a Retrospective with your team every couple of weeks or at the end of a project milestone. The retrospective is your opportunity to elevate the bitterness of experience into the nobility of reflection. Ask them to come prepared with their key insights, observations, and ideas for improvement. Decide how you want to run the different parts of the meeting and update the agenda accordingly.

  • The retrospective is a constructive glance at the recent past to enable a better future.
  • A legitimate question is whether lessons learned workshops are synonymous with retrospectives.
  • But it also encourages you to look outward at external factors you’ll need to contend with or take advantage of.
  • Going around the table, you ask each team member how the last sprint — or relevant period of work — went.
  • Address issues affecting team communications and performance.

’ It’s a fair question to ask as the timing of meetings can greatly impact their effectiveness and outcome. Likewise, there may be external pressures and demands that your team must face when it comes to projects. Retros help the team as a whole, and its members, gather their thoughts and opinions on a recent project. Often, we move from project to project or task to task without taking the time to sit and reflect. A retro can thus be an incredibly beneficial way to help us improve our ways of working, especially when it comes to teams. Before you can dive into the nitty-gritty and get to work on identifying areas of concern, you must first review the facts and the project in its entirety with an unbiased lens.

The 4Ls or Four Ls retro lets you discover what your team liked, learned, lacked, and longed for. Unlike the resolute language of a Start, Stop, Continue retro, 4Ls allows for more nuance. Its format is less about immediate definition of project retrospective solutions and more about fact-finding, leading to broader, sweeping changes or subtle tweaks for your next iteration. There are many other Retrospective formats and activities you can use to enhance these meetings.

What Data Should You Use in Your Retrospective?

Say “I would like to appreciate [team member’s name here] for [thing they did that you appreciated.]” Then whoever just received this bit of appreciation goes next, and so on. Once each idea has been presented, take some time to categorize them. Think of broad categories you can use and class them accordingly. For instance, if you’re looking back on initiatives for a marketing campaign, you can group ideas per channel (e.g. social media, blog content). Now that you know what a retrospective is and why you should run one, here’s a simple framework for doing so. Visualize your next retrospective with Lucidspark’s helpful template.

definition of project retrospective

This meeting happens during the life of a project and often occurs every two weeks. This allows the team to improve its ability to work together continuously. A project retrospective is a process where the team reflects on the project and looks for ways to become more effective as a team. These meetings go by many names – postmortems, retrospectives, after-action reviews, wrap-ups, project “success” meetings. Regardless of what you call them, they all have the same goal and follow the same basic pattern.

It’s important not to skip or rush through this step, especially for larger projects. People will arrive at the retrospective ready to discuss and solve problems, often assuming they know everything they need to know about what happened. Retrospectives are an invaluable tool for improving team dynamics, processes and productivity.

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With this retrospective format, you take a cue from her approach. First, ask for every technique, process, and tool and if it brings your team joy. ⏰ You do this retrospective format on Halloween, of course, and can combine it with other fun activities.

A medical retrospective is an examination of a patient’s medical history and lifestyle. It allows the team to document wins and areas of opportunity. Project Scheduling SoftwareHere, we help you evaluate the best project scheduling software out there. Resource Management SoftwareWho’s working on what, when, and for how long? Project Management SoftwareTask lists, schedules, file sharing, comms, analytics & reporting – these tools do it all. With one-on-one help and personalized recommendations, we guide you to your top software options.

While most retrospectives will follow the format above, there are different types of retrospectives that each have their own specific elements. Usually, it’s the meat of the retrospective — the information collection stage — that’ll be the most different. Here are 4 different frameworks for running this part of your retrospective. It’s important to get feedback from your team on your retrospectives, especially if you haven’t done too many of them. This doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes and can even be done asynchronously. You can ask for this feedback in a few different ways, whether that’s with guided questions in a Google Form, or just a five-star rating system through your chat app.

Actions 10 MIN

Use the first few minutes of your meeting to establish an open and informal tone where people feel comfortable bringing up ideas. The team tries to find solutions for these issues and plans actions to improve. These differences make it key for you to understand when to use which one.

Say on this point until you’ve come to a consensus view – without this basis of agreement, you could have difficulty proceeding. Present an evaluation of the effectiveness of previously selected improvement actions. The goal of a retrospective is to improve team performance on the project. Foundations for the Perfect Retrospective gives pointers to some great information on retrospectives and gives almost a dozen tips on successfully establishing retrospectives in your organization. Close the retrospective – reflect on the retrospective and how to improve it, and to appreciate accomplishments of the team and individual interactions .

First of all, a team member should certainly take responsibility for hosting a retrospective. However, you might wonder who should have this responsibility, and the answer is… it depends. If the previous step was about asking what happened, generating insights is about asking why they happened.

definition of project retrospective

An Agile Coach also has the experience and skills to perform this facilitation work. The retrospective is first and foremost about the team, made for the team, led by the team. Simultaneously, the adoption of Agile methods such as eXtreme Programming or Scrum is gaining in intensity.

A project retrospective is a process where an organization or team carves time out of their day to reflect on a current project so everyone can move forward collectively in a more efficient manner. Scheduling time to reflect and assess the situation enables you to step back and examine things that are going well or maybe even elements of the project that need improvement. As soon as the collective team has identified areas within the project that need improvement, iterations can be made to redirect the project in a more positive direction.

FIRST: Preparing for the Meeting

The Agile practice of holding retrospectives flowed from the Agile Manifesto, developed in 2001 by a group of developers, practitioners, and leaders of different software frameworks. For teams that struggle with candor, explore ways to improve the sense of safety. Try activities that strengthen listening skills and encourage participation from people who tend to hold back. The targeted improvements can concern speed, quality, cost, job satisfaction, or any other dimension of the work.

Have a plan, and make it easy for the team to come prepared. Here we have put together a template for your next Agile retro. Your team will excel in certain areas and struggle in others.


From this new perspective, see if any problems become evident to you. And think about how you will create an environment where team members can share their learning. Including the relevant remote team members in the retrospective is challenging, particularly if your team is spread around the globe.

The best plan of action in these instances is to guide the team towards finding the root of the problem. Keep reading if you want to understand how you can use the sprint retrospective as a vehicle to drive change. We’ll break down what it is, what it isn’t, and hash through some helpful tips to make the sprint retrospective as productive as possible. Also, to our knowledge, there is no ‘waterfall retrospective’ out there. Instead of solely using traditional methods like the aforementioned Waterfall framework, we find teams that combine a traditional project management methodology with a particular Agile practice.

Still have questions?

Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat those mistakes in the future. This concept has been preached by many in a variety of disciplines, and product development is no exception. Perhaps this was a project with a very ambitious scope that you managed to deliver on. Maybe you initially thought this was an easy job that would be completed far sooner than it was. Retros can be the perfect way to recap the entire process and help you better understand if your and your team’s prior expectations were accurate or not.

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