Agile Ceremonies Demystified – The Sprint Retrospective – Part 3 of 4

  • ATG Project Team
  • Viewpoint
  • May 9, 2013

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying this series of articles about Agile/Scrum ceremonies.

To recap, the 4 key ceremonies used in an Agile/Scrum project methodology are: Sprint Planning, the Daily Stand-Up, the Sprint Retrospective, and the Sprint Review. This article will focus on the Sprint Retrospective.

A retrospective is held at the end of every Sprint. One of the principles of the Agile Manifesto is, “The team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”

This is the opportunity for the team to openly discuss what went well during the Sprint that should continue, and what areas need improvement. Everyone is expected to have an open mind during the retrospective – this is not a postmortem to place blame or point fingers; everyone is also expected to take responsibility where it is due and make improvements where they can. Each team member is asked to identify specific things the team should:

Start doing

Stop doing

Continue doing

After the list is compiled, the team decides what action items to take on as goals for the next Sprint. At Advanced Technology Group, we keep a historic list of retrospective items from the end of every Sprint. We then carry forward the goals to the next Sprint. Our retrospectives always begin with a review of items selected as goals from the prior retrospective.

Of course, ALL of the ceremonies are important, and if you took any of them away you wouldn’t have an effective Agile/Scrum project. But if I had to pick one ceremony as the most important, I would say the retrospective is it. The retrospective encourages continually improving team effectiveness in a non-threatening forum. How great is that? To be able to let down our defenses, own up to where we really need to improve, know our team mates are there to have our backs and support us, work together to come up with a better plan if the current plan isn’t working. And if the current plan IS working, how can it work even better?

Any team doing retrospectives in the true spirit of Agile/Scrum will find a way to continually improve their process, no matter how well-oiled and efficient they are today. And that IS what the retrospective is all about!


Sprint Planning

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Daily Stand-Up

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Sprint Retrospective

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Sprint Review

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