What is a retrospective ?

Published on 09 November 2022

A retrospective is a Scrum Agile ritual that takes place at the end of a sprint, after a delivery (a sprint being a fixed and limited period of time during which teams must complete previously decided tasks). The Scrum organization is based on three other ceremonies : the Sprint Planning, the Daily Scrum Meeting and the review.

We can also define the retrospective as the place forcontinuous improvement for agile team members. It is a moment of exchange and sharing to point out what works or worked during a sprint, and what doesn't work or didn't work during this sprint.


In general, the retrospective goes like this :

  1. Opening of the retro : introduction to the topics, setting up the dialogue between the different participants
  2. Data collection : This step aims at discussing the facts that took place during the last sprint. The goal is to order the ideas and then deal with them by theme.
  3. Idea generation : this is when participants begin to discuss their ideas. It is about brainstorming in order to collect as many ideas as possible.
  4. Action decision : the team chooses the action plan, translating the ideas into concrete and achievable actions.
  5. Conclusion : the Scrum Master gives the main ideas to the managers.

On average, a retrospective lasts between 1h30 and 2 hours, the longest part being the brainstorming.


As with any ceremony, mistakes can make it counterproductive. Thus, the objective of saving time and clarity of execution is penalized.


Mistakes not to be made

  • Do not prepare the retro : a retro to need :
    • A facilitator (this can be the Scrum Master or a team member) : as the sprints progress, the facilitator can change, which favors the involvement of team members
    • From a plan
    • From an objective
  • Do not lift actions and do not follow them : there is no greater disappointment than to notice that what you say or the ideas you raise are never implemented.
  • Do not give everyone a voice :
    • Everyone must be able to express themselves freely while respecting other team members
    • Especially the more discreet people who may have good ideas or who do not dare to make a criticism or a negative judgment
  • Thinking that everything is going well in the project and that a retro is superfluous, a waste of time : the retro allows to bring up problems that are not necessarily visible, especially in the following cases :
    • If discreet people don't talk about themselves
    • If there are conflicts between team members


While there are mistakes to avoid, there are some tips and tricks that can make your retro a favorite with your team members.


Tips to make your retrospective unforgettable

  • Organize an Agile game : there are plenty of them, this allows to create cohesion within the team and to make sure that everyone takes part and finds an interest in it.
  • Vary the locations : change the office, do it outside, during a team building activity, the only limit being that of the mind.
  • Invite people from outside the team : this makes the ritual more dynamic and brings in new perspectives. In the end, new ideas can emerge and make the project even more successful than before.


If you have a specific need, check our technical assistance offer !


Editing : Jérémy Colombet & Sophie Berbey.

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