A few days ago I was in a LeanCoffee organized by AgiNex and somebody asked:
“What are the key questions that you ask in your sprint retrospectives?”
I broke the list in 4 parts:
- questions to start
- find connections
Key questions to start
First I want to make sure the group is on the same page about what happened in the last iteration:
- Where are we today?
- What events do you remember of it?
- How was the last sprint?
- How did you feel in the last sprint?
At this point I use the following prompt to find connections, patterns in the data and move the group in a more interpretative mode:
- Do you see any connection in the events of the last iteration, and patterns, any shifts?
- What do we make of those shifts?
And since usually you have more topics then time, I use this prompt to prioritize:
- Which one is most important and we have most energy to investigate?
At this point I use a prompt to foster divergent thinking about the topic:
- Where do we want to go with X?
At this point I bring the group to a convergence point on some next steps to take:
- In the next iteration, what can we do to influence some of those events or patterns?
- What’s the next wise action?
It’s critical to honor group reflection and have something tangible out of a sprint retrospective
Sometime the action can be to fix the problem. Often the problem can only be influenced and the action should be treated as an experiment. If you want to dig deeper on that you can read my Cynefin helps Retrospective.
This is a vanilla list I am not suggesting to use it all the times.
Tailor it to your group, see what works and adjust.
You can wrap the questions in a metaphor and create a flavored retro like a Star Wars Retrospective or something simpler with the purpose of making the retro less boring.
This list of questions skips the opening and closing steps of an Agile Retrospective, if you want to learn more you can read a blog post about Skipping steps in Agile Retrospective.
If you don’t spend adequate time on divergence you’ll end up with business as usual thinking. I talk about the issues with skipping the divergence in retrospectives.
What have you read from this post that made you shake your head in disagreement? What made you nod in approval? What challenges would you face with this list of key questions to ask in a Sprint Retrospective?