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Agile Retrospective – Definition & Overview

Agile Retrospective – Definition & Overview


An Agile Retrospective, aka, “Sprint retrospective” in the framework of Scrum, is a vital meeting that follows at the end of a development iteration or Sprint in Agile software development.

Furthermore, the main purpose of a retrospective is to mirror on the work undertaken during the iteration, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary adjustments to boost the team’s processes and performance.

Importance of Agile Retrospective:

The duodecimal principle of the Agile Manifesto states: “At regular recesses, the team mirrors on becoming extra effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”

Agile retrospectives enhance communication and collaboration within the team. Team members can freely discuss issues, share feedback, and collectively breakthrough solutions. This promotes a sense of possession, trust, and accountability among team members.

Additionally, retrospectives ensures improvements are not just talks but actions. Teams identify specific action items and implement them in the subsequent iteration, leading to perceptible results and a better working environment.

What are the Types of Agile Retrospective Workflows & Techniques?

Agile Retrospectives can take several forms and use a range of techniques to facilitate the process of reflection and continuous improvement. Here are some common types of retrospective workflows and techniques:

  1. Start-Stop-Continue: Team members discuss what they should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing in the following iteration. This modest format inspires actionable feedback.
  2. 4Ls – Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed For: Team members share what they liked, what they learned, what they lacked, and what they longed for during the Sprint. It encourages constructive feedback and goal setting.
  3. Lean Coffee: An easy-going, time-boxed meeting where team members propose topics, vote on them, and then discuss them in order of priority. It’s a flexible and dynamic way to address issues.
  4. Sailboat Retrospective: Imagine the team’s journey as a sailboat. The wind represents driving forces, and anchors represent limitations. The team identifies anchors to be raised and sails to be filled.
  5. 5 Whys: Root cause analysis technique where the team repeatedly asks “Why?” to dig deeper into complications. This technique aids identifying the underlying issues and not just the symptoms.

The Agenda of Agile Retrospective:

The agenda for an Agile retrospective meeting characteristically follows an organized format to ensure meeting effectiveness leads to actionable results. Here’s a common agenda for an Agile retrospective:

  • Set the Stage

Welcome everyone to the meeting, review the agenda, and present any discussion techniques.

  • Gather Data

Discuss occurrence of the previous sprint — bearing in mind both high and low points.

  • Generate Insights

Discover ideas for prevailing any known issues. In addition, identify optimistic patterns to endure in future sprints.

  • Decide What to Do

Select action items to implement in the upcoming sprint.

  • Close

Summarize the key takeaways and what the team intends to do differently in the next iteration. Moreover, let team members express gratitude for their colleagues and acknowledge their contributions.

Best Practices for Agile Retrospective:

To perform effective Agile retrospectives, consider the following best practices:

  1. Regular Cadence: Hold retrospectives at the end of each iteration or Sprint. Consistency brings continuous improvement and helps identify trends over time.
  2. Diverse Participation: Ensure all relevant team members and stakeholders are present, as their viewpoints contribute to a complete view of the Sprint.
  3. Timeboxing: Adhere to the allocated time for each retrospective phase to maintain focus and prevent overruns.
  4. Actionable Outcomes: Ensure that discussions pave way to solid action items with clear owners and deadlines.
  5. Foster Open Dialogue: Encourage transparency in communication. Promote positive feedback and practical criticism to drive improvement.
  6. Continuous Learning: Use retrospectives to nurture a culture of learning, adaptability, and growth, where the team is open to trying new approaches.
  7. Prioritize Actions: Ensure that action items are prioritized on the basis of their impending impact and feasibility to make the most significant improvements first.
  8. Involve Alternate Teams: If your organization has multiple Agile teams, consider sharing insights and best practices across teams to drive organization-wide improvements.


In conclusion, Agile Retrospectives are a foundation of Agile methodologies, serving as a central mechanism for teams to reflect, adapt, and continuously improve. These structured, regular meetings create an environment where team members can openly discuss their successes and challenges.

Moreover, identify areas for improvement, and collaboratively define actionable changes. Consequently, they contribute to enhanced processes, increased productivity, and higher team morale.

The influence of retrospectives lies in their ability to drive iterative progress, turning past experiences into future successes. They foster a culture of learning, adaptability, and shared responsibility, ultimately leading to better project outcomes and satisfied customers.

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