Making Sprint Retrospectives Really Effective (Part 2 of 4)

Reaching team consensus on the Top 3 factors that worked well and the Top 3 most problematic factors: Before the Sprint Retrospective session, the ScrumMaster should collect each Scrum team member’s individual Top 3 observations in both categories listed below:

  • What worked well, and the team wants to continue to use (perhaps with some modifications)
  • What was problematic or not useful, and the team should drop, change or improve in a substantial way

The ScrumMaster should collect these inputs from each team member via email ahead of the Sprint Retrospective session.  The ScrumMaster should compile his/her individual inputs in each of these two categories by avoiding duplications or redundancies, and reducing overlaps.   As an example, a ScrumMaster may produce the following consolidated lists for factors that worked well during the sprint just completed, and the factors that were problematic.

During a Sprint Retrospective session each member indicates his Top 3 factors in the list within each category (What worked well, and What was problematic) by voting on those Top 3 factors, individual votes are tabulated to find the team consensus on the Top 3 factors in each category.   A quick way to reach team consensus on the Top 3 factors in each category is to assign 3 points to the factor getting the top vote from a team member, 2 points to the factor getting the second vote from a team member, and 1 point to the factor getting the third vote in the list.

The Sprint_Retrospective template allows gathering and tabulation of votes quickly, adding up the votes of each member, and coming up with the team consensus on the Top 3 factors in each category.   For the above example factors, the Top 3 factors in each category are summarized in the table below.  These 3 factors received the Top 3 votes.

If the above process is followed, in my experience a Scrum team can vote and develop team consensus on Top 3 factors that worked really well in about 15 minutes, and similarly in the next 15 minutes it can reach a team consensus on the Top 3 most problematic factors.

The Sprint_Retrospective_Log template is used to capture the Top 3 factors that worked well, Top 3 most problematic factors, Top 3 impediments, and the SMART action plan for each Sprint Retrospective for a product held by a Scrum team.  The log allows the team to conveniently see linkages among different sprints of a product over one or more release cycles; be able to see recurring issues or improving trends; and get a broader perspective on its own agile process improvement journey undertaken sprint by sprint.

The ScrumMaster should add the Top 3 factors that worked well (based on the team consensus) to the Sprint_Retrospective_Log.   While developing and executing its SMART action plan, the team should make an effort to sustain and continue all the factors in this log of “Top Factors that worked well” in the future sprints.  Otherwise, there is a risk for a team to regress and not be able to maintain the momentum created by factors that had worked well in the past.

Similarly, the ScrumMaster should add the Top 3 most problematic factors (based on the team consensus) to the Sprint_Retrospective_Log. While developing and executing its SMART action plan, the team should make every effort to eliminate or reduce factors in this log of “Top Problematic Factors” in the future sprints.  If a factor found in the Top 3 most problematic factors in the current Sprint Retrospective was also present in the Sprint_Retrospective_Log, the Scrum team should recognize the seriousness of the situation; its SMART action plan to deal with that factor in a past sprint does not seem to be effective.

Key statistics: ScrumMaster should present the key statistics (as shown in Area C of the Sprint Retrospective table) for the sprint just completed.   Some examples of the key statistics and their causes are illustrated below:

Note that most key statistics are usually generated with reports from the agile tool.  VersionOne generates all these 4 key statistics with reports.  There are over 50 standard reports with VersionOne; VersionOne Ultimate Edition includes a large number of custom reports available with its Analytics package.

In a future part of this blog series I will present how to develop the SMART action plan to improve the agile process.  The key statistics and information noted in the Comments/Cause column will be very useful in developing a SMART action plan.

Top 3 impediments and their causes: ScrumMaster should present the Top 3 impediments or impediment patterns as shown in Area C of the Sprint Retrospective table.   Some examples of top impediment and their causes are:

In a future part of this blog series I will present how to develop the SMART action plan to improve the agile process.   The Top 3 impediments and the information notes in the Comments/Cause will be very useful in developing a SMART action plan.

Both the key statistics and the Top 3 impediments found in the current Sprint Retrospective should be logged into the Sprint_Retrospective_Log.

If you are interested in using the Sprint_Retrospective template for conducting your Sprint Retrospectives, please click here.  The template has sample data for the areas shown in the Sprint Retrospective table.

Your ScrumMaster should prepare all the information in Area C of the Sprint Retrospective table (Key Statistics, and Top 3 impediments) ahead of the Sprint Retrospective session.  This would allow the ScrumMaster to present all this information to the Scrum team in about 30 minutes, and also have a brief discussion with the team members.

In the next part of this blog series, I will present how a Scrum team should develop the SMART action plan in response to information collected in areas A, B and C of the Sprint Retrospective table.

Part 1

This entry was posted in Agile Development, Agile Management, Agile Methodologies, Agile Project Management, Agile Teams, Continuous Integration, Kanban, Lean Software Development, Scaling Agile. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Making Sprint Retrospectives Really Effective (Part 2 of 4)

  1. Pingback: Making Sprint Retrospectives Really Effective (Part 3 of 4) | The Agile Management Blog

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