Nexio Development Team’s Sprint Retrospectives

Author: Emily Ann Landon

An effective retrospective at the end of a Sprint can illuminate successes and failures that may have gone unnoticed. It’s also a way to get the team on the same page before diving into a new Sprint and revisiting the working agreement. 

Before starting the retrospective, find a way to get every team member speaking. If someone doesn’t speak at the beginning of a retrospective “…that person has tacit permission to remain silent for the rest of the session.” (Ref: Agile Retrospectives, “Making Good Teams Great”).

Encourage team members to include professional and personal items during the retrospective i.e., a new personal record for a marathon, toddler’s first potty word, or how many bugs found before pushed into production. These are all relevant pieces of a retrospective. 

Some favorite retrospectives used by the Nexio Development team include: 

  1. 3.14159265359: 

    Draw a large circle or pie and divide it equally into five parts labeled: start, stop, keep, more, less. Begin listing things in each category. For example: keep holding Daily Standup at 10:00 am; start teaching your toddler better words, stop approving pull requests without thoroughly reviewing the code. List multiple items in each category, and don’t be afraid to have the same item in multiple categories. i.e. keep daily standup at 10:00 am, more feedback in daily standup.

  2. Make A Crossword: 

    First, you’ll need to find two different colored markers. (This may be the most difficult part of the retrospective.) One of the colors will indicate positive aspects of the past week and the other color will indicate the negative aspects. If by chance you happen upon another colored marker, write down the wants/needs of the group. Create a crossword puzzle with your words. Determine if the positive or negative aspects of the week overpowered the other.

  3. Frogger: 

    Start by drawing a large square and divide it in half with a horizontal line. The bottom half is the road portion, and the top half is the river portion. Your team (the frog) is trying to safely cross the street and then the river. 

    • Road: The frog needs to successfully navigate vehicles and arrive safely to the bank of the river. Some vehicles are small bicycles while others are 18-wheeler trucks! Give each vehicle a name and work through how you avoided a catastrophe. Note: one time after a particularly difficult sprint, the team threw out vehicles altogether and replaced it with heavy road construction complete with sinkholes.   
    • River: instead of the frog avoiding getting hit by a vehicle, draw lily pads and logs that are helping the frog cross the river. This portion of the retrospective can be especially illuminating if there are not enough items to help the team be successful.

Modify and change retrospectives to fit the needs of your team. And don’t be afraid to come up with retrospectives that may be relevant to current events or pop culture. For example, you could have a retrospective that rates the sprint on a scale from Season 1 to Season 8, Game of Thrones. The end goal is all the same: get the discussion going and understand the needs of the team to be successful in the next sprint.