The Ultimate Guide to Sprint Retrospectives

Sprint retrospectives are a foundational element of Scrum project management. When done right, a sprint retrospective can help teams improve their processes for future sprints and see better results in less time. When done wrong, they can result in interpersonal conflicts and wasted resources. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to master sprint retrospectives with project management tools like Gantt charts, detailed tasks, and automated data reporting — all within Wrike. 

What is a sprint retrospective?

A sprint retrospective is a review of a past period of work. It’s used to evaluate both team and individual performance. Insights gained from a sprint retrospective informs the next sprint so that it can be even more successful than the last. 

To best understand what a sprint retrospective is, we can look at what each word means separately. 

A sprint in project management is a short period of time (days or weeks). Every sprint has a set of assigned tasks and a clear deadline. Sprints are used in Scrum project management (an Agile framework) to break larger phases into smaller, more manageable chunks.  A retrospective is a formal analysis held to review past work. Participants in this meeting take an honest look at what went well and what didn’t. Retrospectives show people what they can do better in the future. 

A sprint retrospective aims to optimize systems, reduce potential roadblocks, and stay on track to meet big picture goals. 

What is the difference between sprint review and sprint retrospective?

The biggest difference between a sprint review and a sprint retrospective is the goal each attempts to achieve. 

A sprint review is used to discuss what happened during the project. Sprint reviews are typically limited to managers and team leads. The information gathered in a sprint review will be shared with other relevant stakeholders and collaborators afterward. 

A sprint retrospective is used to discuss how a sprint went with an emphasis on process and workflow. The entire Scrum team attends these meetings to provide their boots on the ground feedback. Anything learned during a sprint retrospective is put into action during the next sprint. 

What is a sprint retrospective meeting?

A sprint retrospective meeting is a formal gathering of Scrum teams and stakeholders to go over a previous sprint. During the meeting, they create a concrete plan for applying those insights in the future. 

A sprint retrospective usually takes place the day after a sprint finishes or immediately following a sprint review. The goal is to have minimal lag time between that one and the next. 

What happens in a sprint retrospective meeting?

A sprint retrospective meeting is a discussion that everyone participates in. But if you’re wondering what happens explicitly, here’s an agenda breakdown every organizer needs to know: 

Set the tone
Sprint retrospectives often turn into open forums. To keep it from becoming a free for all employee review, make sure the team is laser-focused by setting the tone upfront. Here’s how:  Make introductions
Introductions help team members, stakeholders, and freelancers quickly understand who is in the room and why. Quickly listing everyone’s name and role on the project is enough. Highlight individual wins 
Choose one specific thing to highlight about each person during this past sprint. If the list is long, share it in your project management platform where everyone can see it.

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