9 Tips For The Best Sprint Retrospective Meeting


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Focus and adaptability are central concepts in agile working approaches. They are essential concepts for teamwork when thinking about the review and looking for opportunities for improvement. No one has to leave the meeting thinking: “This could have been an email”.

Retrospective meeting planning is the opportunity to acknowledge good practices and pain points. It is also a kick-off that defines the new sprint for our team from the creative side. Here are 9 tips to help you make the most of every minute of your next retrospective meeting.


  • Retrospective meeting planning is the opportunity to acknowledge good practices and pain points.
  • It focuses on people, their interactions and work processes, rather than the product.
  • During the meeting, you should pay attention to the signals so that you can adapt the dynamics and achieve useful results as a team.

9 must-have tips for scheduling and running the best sprint retrospective meeting

A sprint retrospective meeting is a great opportunity to keep your team motivated. It is not only focused on results or partial delivery, but also on teamwork, and how the team interacts. It is the time for joint learning, change and action: time for continuous improvement.

“Experience is predominant in the key elements of the project, and it must have the capacity to be self-managing, highly motivated and highly innovative teams” (1).

No one should perceive the meeting as an inquisition or finger-pointing. The purpose of continuous improvement leads us to look at pain points in our actions as a team, to think as a group, and propose solutions to those difficulties.

1. The meeting should be a natural part of the search and adaptation process.

We must structure a meeting so that the team can know its objective, focus and time frame. Let them know how the time will be used and establish interaction agreements to ensure everyone’s participation. Plan activities for each stage of the meeting.

Steps of the Retrospective Meeting in an iterative life cycle (Source: María Eugenia Bouchet/ Gitnux)

The outcome should be a natural start and end to the lifecycle of iterative processes.

2. Synchronous retrospective vs. asynchronous retrospective.

If your team works in different time zones, there may not be a good time to bring everyone together. Asking people to arrive early or stay late would be particularly contrary to the spirit of the Retrospective (2).

However, when facing such adversity, holding a retrospective meeting using new technologies becomes a valid option. The differences between the two are explained in the table below:

 Synchronous RetrospectiveAsynchronous retrospective
Meeting spacePhysical meeting room or video callVirtual chat room or forum
Meeting timeEstimated 45 to 50 minutes per sprint weekCan be spread out over several days, divided into stages, so that the team could collaboratively develop each other’s ideas
CommunicationFace-to-face interaction is complemented by all non-verbal communication and verbal communication, without recording, allowing expressions that would not be put into writingEmpathy is lost and the persistent nature of chat logs can discourage expression and hinder synergy. On the other hand, it allows more time to develop ideas.
Planning and executionTime is devoted to planning and execution is done all at once in the time and space agreed upon by the team. It is flexible to adapt to the circumstances of the moment.By developing in discontinuous times and spaces, the team must be motivated to achieve by extending the conversation over several days. Also, more time is needed to cure and guide the retrospective over several days.

3. Work in the setting: Generate and/or strengthen working arrangements

A short introduction, a simple welcome, recalling the purpose of the meeting and thanking for the time spent should take no longer than 5 minutes. Asking each member to define their expectations of the meeting in two words encourages everyone’s participation.

Beforehand, establish real and acceptable agreements and values of interaction as a social contract. Ask your team to monitor their working agreements during the retrospective. When the team takes responsibility for their interactions, you can focus solely on facilitating the meeting.

“It is impossible to anticipate every situation; most groups can address most situations with five working agreements. If you need more than the fingers of both hands to count your working agreements, you have too many (3).”

You need to generate an environment that helps people talk about difficult issues, express emotions, or deliver unpleasant news. People must feel comfortable, free to express themselves and respected in their opinions. Working on agreements reveals what the group is concerned about.

4. Collect data and work on the data obtained

Even when we all work on the same team, we may miss some data. And as different people, we have different ways of looking at the same things. All this can be used to generate a new conception of the events analyzed and shared. Sharing and comparing opinions expands our individual perspectives.

Exposing and classifying data

Making a visual presentation of the data on display can help the team to find patterns and/or connections they had not seen before. Classification of data by origin can also help to rethink the data. We propose the following classification:

  1. Events: Factual, empirical data. May include meeting minutes, changes in team members, critical moments, adoption of new tools, etc.
  2. Metrics: Objectives achieved and to be achieved, individually and as a group, speed of achievement, difficulties in achievement, etc.
  3. Perceptions or feelings: The latter functions as a data thermometer. It shows what is important to the team about the data and relationships.
    At this point, members are not always open to exposing themselves. You should think of questions that lead them indirectly in the direction you need to go:
    • What do they think were the high and low points of the sprint?
    • At what point did they feel more or less convinced of their work?
    • In which other groups would you like to participate and why?

We should not take the emotional charge out of work interactions. Work, especially in services, education and systems is essentially built by people.

Reviewing exposure

Before moving forward, quickly review as a group the final product of the exhibit. We should look for new patterns of behaviour, minimal changes in existing patterns, or unusual parameters or patterns and point them out.
Based on this review, you should decide which problem or group of problems you are going to address as a priority in the next sprint. This choice can be made by voting, or by group assessment, prioritising:

  • The capacity of the people
  • Team cohesion
  • Technical/product simplicity (4).

5. Discovering the causes

Now it’s time to think about the root causes of the problems. And how to act differently or think outside the box. We already know the problem and the obvious causes, so we have to look further:

  • Additional causes we may have missed.
  • Reflect on causes and effects.
  • Propose possible solutions.
  • Make the process a collective and conscious effort.

To highlight a framework based on the fact that the development team will know the best way to solve the problem at hand (5). The most commonly used technique to simplify thinking and make it graphical is the fishbone or Ishikawa diagram.

6. Action time: define what’s next

At this point, we already have a list of potential improvement actions. It is up to the team to choose one or two items from that list.
Once it’s completed, we need to plan the improvement actions and propose them, so that they can be incorporated into the backlog of the next sprint.

The meeting should at least result in the following:

  • An action plan for improvement
  • New best practices
  • Updated team agreements
  • Impediments to scaling

The facilitator should be responsible for removing the identified obstacles that the team itself cannot solve on its own (6).

Moreover, the facilitator will help to choose items that the team can commit to and that will have a positive effect on the next sprint.

7. Avoid a “do nothing” result

This can happen when the team identifies the actions of other teams or areas as the source of its problems. If the team expects others to change as a solution, it is likely to end in enormous frustration and work paralysis. Waiting, without further ado, for change in others is a useless and unproductive practice.

Even when control does not belong directly to us, we can always generate an action that triggers the change we are waiting for. Or we can opt for responses that take us in a different direction.

8. Rotate facilitators

Facilitating is not an easy task and requires dedication, and like any practical task, it also requires exercise. Each member who takes on the role of the facilitator will put his/her stamp on the meeting. It is also a time for exposure, to show leadership skills, and to take on extra responsibility.

(Source: Maria Eugenia Bouchet/

However, keep in mind that not all members of the group will be up for the task. You must observe your team and assign the role. It is your task to accompany each one in their difficulties and strengths to make it a successful practice.

9. Closure: document for further processes

Help your team decide how to document what they learned and decided in the retrospective. The learnings belong to the team and should be shared. This practice will allow you to review progress.

Generate a minute with a graph, a photo of what was worked on in the panels, a synoptic chart or an e-mail with points to remember. Review the performance of the retrospective with the team and ask if they would do anything differently at the next meeting.


The sprint retrospective meeting has to serve the work team to:

  • Have a comprehensive view of daily practices and methods.
  • Expose and understand different points of view.
  • Follow individual and group reasoning.
  • Allow uncomfortable conversations before determining results.
  • Leave concrete improvement actions to the team for the next iteration.

In any kind of team activity, group reflection is particularly useful. In a sprint retrospective meeting, everyone contributes and there are many surprises.


1. Figueroa RG, Solis CJ, Cabrera AA. TRADITIONAL METHODOLOGIES VS. Agile Methodologies [Internet]. Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, Escuela de Ciencias en Computación, editor. Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, School of Computer Science; 2008 [cited 10/09/2022]. Available from: Source

2. Varner D. Distributed Retrospectives with Slack [Internet]. Danny Varner. 2017 [cited 12/09/2022]. Available from: https:
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3. Larsen, Derby. Agile retrospectives: making good teams great [Internet]. Pragmatic Bookshelf, editor. Pragmatic Bookshelf; 2006 [cited 09/09/2022]. Available from: https:
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4. Xavier Albaladejo. Agile Management – How to be a 21st century leader [Internet]. 2020 [cited 10/09/2022]. Available from: https:
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5. Uva M, Daniele M, Zorzán FA, Frutos M, Arsaute A. Proposal for documenting final papers using agile methodologies [Internet]. 2014 [cited 10/09/2022]. Available from: Source

6. Sprint Retrospective [Internet]. Agile Projects. Agile Projects; 2018. [cited 12/09/2022] Available from: https:
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