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What is an Agile Retrospective: Definition, Examples, and Templates 

An Agile retrospective is an excellent tool for helping to ensure your teams get the most out of Agile software development. Because Agile stresses the importance of continuous improvement, having a regular Agile retrospective is one of the most important Agile development practices.

This article sets out to offer a quick definition of what an Agile retrospective is. It includes practical examples of how to do them using Teamhood, along with some graphics of the Teamhood templates you can use as part of the process. That way, you’ll hopefully get a good idea of how Agile retrospectives work and you’ll be able to better imagine how you can make use of them in your organization.

What is an Agile Retrospective?

An Agile retrospective is a meeting held at the end of a sprint in Agile software development. During this meeting, the team reflects on what happened during the sprint and identifies actions for improvement by asking the following specific questions:

  • What worked well for us? / What did we do well?
  • What did not work well for us? / What could we do better?
  • What actions could we take to improve our process in the future?

The retrospective is team-driven. Team members should decide how to run the meetings and how to make decisions about the improvements they need to make. The team reflects on how everything went and then decides what changes to make in the next iteration.

Learn more about how to determine the Scrum team size.

6 Steps of an Agile Retrospective in Teamhood

Based on the experiences of our most successful clients who use Agile, here are the six steps needed for running an Agile retrospective using Teamhood.

Step 1: Open a Retrospective template

Start by creating a new workspace or board in Teamhood dedicated to retrospectives. If you are creating a new workspace, you can find a template under Workshops -> Agile retrospective.

Here you will find a Kanban board with 3 statuses:

  • What went well?
  • What could be improved?
  • Actions to take

For remote teams, you can work straight into this digital template. If you’re able to do the retrospective with the team gathered together in a room, you can choose to use a whiteboard with sticky notes and then transfer the information captured into the template. 

This is how the retrospective board will look in Teamhood:

agile retrospective

Step 2: Invite your team

For remote or hybrid teams, you should be able to invite your team members to attend your remote call with a couple of clicks. Otherwise, make sure to gather your team in a room where they can focus for 30 minutes to an hour without any distractions.

If your team uses Teamhood, add them to the new workspace so that they can think about the past Sprint and add items ahead of the meeting.

Step 3: Set clear expectations and create a safe space

For an Agile retrospective to be effective, your team members must feel like they can speak freely. This is one of Agile’s guiding principles in general and of retrospectives more specifically. 

Retrospectives should be regular and short, so set a clear time limit for the meeting. It’s also useful to ensure that any views are captured anonymously, in case the meeting results need to be shared with senior management at any point. This creates a safe space in which every participant can feel free to speak their mind

Some more ground rules:

  • Focus on finding solutions rather than blame
  • Listen with an open mind
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Have a third party lead the meeting if possible

Step 4: Ask the questions

As discussed, you now want to gather information and review how things went during your last sprint. Ask your team members to write down or contribute their answers to the following questions:

  • What did we do well? Have team members write down one idea per note. Discuss the idea briefly amongst the team. 
  • What could we improve? Have team members write down one idea per note. Discuss the idea briefly amongst the team.

Here is an example of how that could look in a Teamhood board once team members have contributed their answers to each question:

agile retrospective

Step 5: Brainstorm actions 

Once you’ve discussed what went well and what didn’t, ask your team to brainstorm actions that can be taken to improve problem areas. Again, ask them to write one idea per note if using a whiteboard in person, or to contribute one idea at a time if conducting the meeting remotely. 

Post the ideas on your board under the heading “Actions to take” Group together any ideas that are similar or linked. Discuss each idea as a team. Agree as a team on which actions you want to take, and then assign a task owner to each action, plus a deadline by when the actions should be completed, if applicable. 

Step 6: Follow up

At the start of each retrospective, you should have a list of previous actions to follow up with the various task owners. Check that each action has been done and, if not, discuss why. 

It’s important to keep track of actions and ensure that they are being completed. 

Tips to help improve your Agile retrospectives

Every organization and every team can adapt the Agile retrospective concept to suit what works best for them. As a result, no two retrospective meetings are the same. Here are some tips we’ve compiled that can help you improve or tailor your retrospectives:

  • Allow team members to vote individually and in secret if possible. This avoids herd mentality. 
  • Give a shout-out to the team or to individual team members who performed well in the previous sprint at the start of your retrospective. Everyone enjoys being recognized for their efforts. 
  • Energize the meeting with some icebreakers before you start. 
  • Make brainstorming anonymous. This helps people feel they are in a safe space where they can be honest.
  • Give people some silent time when writing answers to the questions or when brainstorming actions. 
  • Foster an Agile environment.

Ready to start using Agile tools in your organization? 

If you’d like to find out more about Agile and how it could work for your organization, check out our growing library of Agile content

Or why not get in touch with us to see how Teamhood could help solve your Agile challenges?  

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