8 Best Practices for Effective Sprint Retrospective Meeting

Editorial Team

8 Best Practices for Effective Sprint Retrospective Meeting

At the end of every sprint review meeting, the scrum teams hold a sprint retrospective meeting. Only the scrum team members, such as the product owner, development team, and scrum master, attend this meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to figure out what went well, what could have been improved, and what actions can be taken to do so.

Sprint retrospective acts as a middle step, taking place after sprint review and before sprint planning. It helps evaluate the results of the sprint review meeting and prepare for the sprint planning meeting.

During the sprint retrospective meeting, the team has a good opportunity to improve their working and designing a plan of action to incorporate the improvements. Everything that plays a role in the creation and development of the product, such as tools, processes, and environment, is open for questions, investigation, and discussion.

To ensure that your scrum team does not lose any magic and sprint retrospective meeting goes successfully, here are some sprint retrospective meeting best practices to follow:

1. Invite Concerned Individuals Only

Sprint retrospective meeting is kind of an in-team meeting, which means only concerned individuals are supposed to be a part of it. Even if your company manager and finance operator are somehow linked to the project, they are not directly concerned. And so, it is a sprint retrospective best practice to include directly involved individuals in the meeting only.

Here’s what makes your spin retrospective meeting team complete:

Product Owner

The product owner can be a significant part of this meeting; however, he is free to choose whether he wants to attend or not. If he does not attend, the scrum master can later brief him on any changed course.

Scrum Master

Scrum master acts as the head of the sprint retrospective meeting and authorizes the scum team. The meeting cannot take place in his absence. However, he holds no authority to make desired changes in the scrum process but only those which are discussed and agreed upon.

The scrum master ensures full-scale participation of the concerned team members. He allows enough room for each team member to bring in ideas and retrospect. He makes sure that the team understands the purpose and significance of the sprint retrospective meeting, and end results are meaningful.

Development Team

The development team is a must in sprint retrospective meetings as its members are at the creating and developing end. They can well understand the technical problems and risks lying ahead. Together, they can come up with great solutions to counter any grave concerns shared by customers and stakeholders in the sprint review meeting.

2. Practice Start, Stop and Continue

Start, Stop, and Continue is the golden rule of sprint retrospect, and so, the scrum team must realize its importance. It is best to practice this rule during sprint retrospective meetings as it provides a deep insight into the capabilities, functioning, tools, and artifacts of a project.

Following this rule, the team knows what they should start doing, what they should stop doing, and which aspects of continuing with.

What to Start

It is best to ask your team what they would like to start. This can include new processes using new tools, which means you need to have a look into budgeting and resources. Identifying processes that need to begin allows inspection and helps in finding a healthy way out.

What to Stop

Now that you know what does not benefit the development and overall project, your team must have a good idea of what needs to stop. If they do not, the sprint retrospective meeting is a great opportunity to do so.

It will also shift your resources, so you do not keep wasting them. Also, it makes sure you are saving both time and effort.

What to Continue

This is the most significant part of this rule. When you have estimated things that need to start and stop, you are left with the things that should continue. However, make sure these processes, tools, and aspects are beneficial for your product and help you achieve your goals and aims.

3. Create an Interactive Environment

The environment has a strong impact on brainstorming and decision-making capabilities. One cannot think openly and broadly in a restricted and boring environment. Your mind to be fresh to inspect. Here’s what can help you create a healthy and interactive environment:

Find a Healthy Location

Location matters the most. It is unwise to hold a sprint retrospective meeting in the same room where you just finished the sprint review meeting. It is sprint retrospective best practice to move to another location, which is lively and welcoming.

Even if this means holding a meeting out of your office, why not? You can go to a park, a café, or any such place that refreshes your mind and activates it to welcome deep insight and new ideas.

Gather Feedback

The feedback loop is important during the sprint retrospective meeting. You must encourage each team member to offer constructive feedback. It allows good understanding, exchange of ideas, and brings in positive criticism that drives towards change.

Criticize Work, Not People

Another golden rule of teamwork is to criticize the work and not people. If team members start pointing out individual flaws rather than product flaws, it can have a negative impact on teamwork.

4. Scrum Master Must be Impartial

As scrum master is the key figure of sprint retrospect, it is upon him to conduct an effective sprint retrospective meeting. To make it an effective and productive meeting, here’s what he should do:

Adopt Objective Stance

Objectivity is significant when holding discussions. Also, it makes sure that everyone participates. The scrum master must be neutral and welcome opinions from each member. He must be encouraging and appreciating, not biased, and subjective.

Ask Relevant Questions

The scrum master should ask relevant questions regarding problems that have appeared and improvements that must be made. A scrum master needs to realize that he should not be the one giving answers but asking questions. Only then, the team will focus on potential solutions and chip in their ideas.

Provide Clarification

To make sure that there are no disagreements, the scrum master must clarify the decisions that have been agreed upon. He should make the roles and responsibilities of each team member clear. This helps avoid any kind of disagreements and opinion clashes.


At the end of the meeting, the scrum master should summarize and conclude the meeting to explain what the team has achieved out of this meeting. Also, he should put forward clear goals to attain until the next meeting.

5. Establish Smart Goals

When it comes to the goals and aims, it is one of the sprint retrospective best practices to establish smart goals. Let’s look into what smart goals are:

Keep the Goals Specific

Goals should be kept specific, so everyone has a clear idea of what they need to accomplish. Also, they should match one’s area of expertise. It is best to work on what you are good at.

Set Success Indicators

There need to be success indicators that measure the progress of set goals and notify when a certain goal is achieved. This makes sure extra time or effort is not spent on a single goal.

Establish Realistic Goals

Smart goals are the ones that are realistically possible to achieve, i.e., the ones you have enough resources for. Setting ideal goals might end up disturbing and delaying the entire sprint.

Ensure Goals are Relevant

You must make sure that your goals are relevant to the current development phase of the product and if they are worthwhile.

Time Your Goals

Smart goals are time-bound. Set a time limit to achieve a goal to accelerate the project.

6. Follow a Consistent Structure for Meeting

A sprint retrospective meeting usually runs shorter than the sprint review meeting. Also, it differs in its structure as it has a different kind of purpose. Here we have a general template for an effective sprint retrospective meeting:


The introduction is the first part of the meeting. Here, the scrum master sets the stage by putting forward the goals and objectives of the meeting. Also, he encourages [participation and appreciates the scrum team for all the good they have achieved so far.

Analyze the Data

Next, the team collectively analyzes the data that was collected in the sprint review meeting. It allows deep insight into the problems and identification of any risks lying ahead.

Brainstorm Ideas

Here comes the most important part of the meeting. Team members must brainstorm ideas to figure out what went wrong and how to improve it. When each individual provides an insight into potential solutions, it becomes easier to find the right solution.

Agree on Decisions

Agreeing on decisions is often difficult but eventually turns out to be really productive. Make sure you do not pick a single solution but at least have three different solutions for your problems. So when one does not work out, you already have another to practice.


Wrapping up the retrospect helps know what the team has achieved in the session. Also, it makes it easier to assigns roles and responsibilities to each team member.

7. Allow Root Cause Analysis

Root cause analysis is another sprint retrospective best practice. It allows you to dig deeper into problems to know what went wrong. There are different ways to conduct a root cause analysis. Here are some of the most effective ones:

Know Why

Make each member individually think of why a certain problem occurred. According to his level of expertise, everyone will think, and when they share in, the team can reach the root cause together.

Force Field Analysis

Force-field analysis is looking into the forces that drive you towards a certain goal or block the process. It helps decide which factors are strengthening your attainable goals or weakening them.

Impact Mapping

Impact mapping is a method to consider the impact of a process to determine its value. It takes into account why (goal), who (actor), how (impact), and what (deliverable) to find out if a process is worth it. This technique is commonly known as strategic planning.

8. Make Team-Based Decisions, Not Leader Based

As mentioned above, scrum master authorizes the scrum team and so, is in charge of the sprint related meetings. However, he is no position to declare orders. Sprint retrospective meetings should encourage team-based decisions.

No Hierarchal Setup

Scrum teams do not follow hierarchal setup, and each member should have equal say and participation to make a process agile.

Use Feedback Loop

Feedback loop helps gather opinions and ideas and so, come up with agreed-upon decisions in the end.

Collective Actions Mean Collective Decision

As sprint product develops under collective action, any desired change should be decided upon collectively as well. That’s what sprint retrospect truly means.

Final Thoughts

Sprint retrospective meetings allow the scrum team to have another look into problems and find out potential solutions. It helps the team decide on improvements and carry them out to achieve goals. Also, it is useful in knowing what needs to start, stop, and continue. 

All of this can happen only when you hold an effective sprint retrospective meeting. To do that, scrum master and the team should find an interactive environment, encourage participation, set smart goals, and find the root cause.

Following golden rules such as positive criticism, teamwork, and team-based decisions further strengthen sprint retrospect.