Tips for a great #Agile Retrospective (Even if your team is remote)

Tips for a great #Agile Retrospective (Even if your team is remote)

This post inspired by Paul Goddard’s & Geoff Watts’ Post on Scrum Alliance.

If you work with #Agile software development methodologies you are familiar with Agile Retrospectives:

"retrospective (rèt´re-spèk-tîv) — a ritual held at the end of a project to learn from the experience and to plan changes for the next effort.”

A good retrospective session is filled with energy, structured discussions, creativity, and even humour. The retrospective is a chance to know the collective history from everyone involved in the project with the purpose of mining the experience to gain wisdom.

However, a not so great retrospective can be the case even for experienced Agilistas. Some teams disregard the importance of this event for their continuous improvement. The retrospective in some cases can turn repetitive, uninspiring and predictable.

If #AgileRetrospectives are executed well, they can have an immediate effect on team productivity and morale. The reverse effect also happens with poorly executed Retros.

Our goal at is to bring #Agile software development to every team. To make Agile easy, enjoyable and seamless with the tools teams are using and thus enable teams across the world to improve their performance. So we read the Scrum alliance Article and got inspired. We decided to complement our lists and share some tips for holding a productive and enjoyable retrospective session. Read on, Agilistas:

  • VENUE: Hold the retrospective in a good venue. It’s hard to expect people to think differently about their situation if they always use the same old meeting room and stare at the same four walls. Some of the best retrospectives we have been involved in have been performed inside a pub or restaurant, or outdoors in the garden or a park. You might find people “open up” more emotionally in an informal environment, or extend their creative thought by enjoying some actual “blue-sky” thinking.

  • MOVE! Get people moving. Body movement increases blood flow, in turn, allows more energy and oxygen to move through our bodies and brains.

  • FOOD & DRINKS: Remember, you are expecting people to stay focused for one to three hours in most cases, and attentiveness will soon drop off if attendees feel hungry or thirsty. Coffee is a great incentive. As far as food goes, avoid cakes, bread in general. Go for some fresh fruit instead. This will avoid having people fall asleep in your meeting.

  • PURPOSE & TRANSPARENCY: State the purpose. Lots of poor retrospectives end up wandering about trivial topics and end up with no tangible results or benefits. As a ScrumMaster, try to grab the attention of your audience within the first five to ten minutes of the meeting.

  • EXPERIMENT: Experiment with metaphor. Some people truly believe they are not creative at all. By introducing a metaphor, you can allow people to think about a problem or situation differently, and that might stimulate a more natural and spontaneous response.

  • PLAY: Let people play. We feel safer if we feel like we are playing. Try introducing some games into the retrospective. Try word-association games, role-playing scenarios, and even some board games. Playing with toys, such as LEGOreg; blocks or clay might help stimulate some different thoughts.

  • DISCUSS: Encourage healthy conflict. Make sure the team knows that it isn’t always about an agreement. Disagreement is not only OK but also a great way to find the best solutions.

  • CHANGE: Keep things varied. One of the most common comments about retrospectives is that they become boring over time. Asking the same questions at every retrospective can quickly become tedious, so do anything you can to keep them fresh. Some ideas include having a specific theme for each retrospective, changing the location, having a guest speaker, or bringing in a different facilitator.

  • REFLECT: Encourage everyone on the team to move past facts and tap into how the situation is affecting them and others. Not only does this make it more real but it also increases the value of doing something about it. We’re all more likely to make a change if we are aware of how it’s affecting me and other people.

  • TAKE ACTION: Make sure that the team reflects on things, thinking about what part they are playing in the situation; if possible, create action items that will address the issue at hand and assign a person responsible and, more important, take some action toward making that aspect of the team’s situation better. Check back on assigned action items every session. They don’t have to solve it completely so long as they are moving toward a solution. For this matter, our Agile Retrospectives for Confluence or the Agile Retrospectives for Jira tool, is great. You can assign a person to each action item.

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