Best Practice – Change Up Your Retrospective Format


Here is how I define a Best Practice:

  • Best Practice -a practice that is good in almost all contexts and almost all team situations.

Break through the B-O-R-E-D-O-M!
Retrospectives can get boring, and when they get boring, the effectiveness of them falls off dramatically. To help prevent this boredom factor, change up your retrospective format. There are lots of websites and even a few books that discuss numerous retrospective formats. You don’t even have to follow those formats down to the last detail — change that up too!

Rule of Thumb
My rule of thumb is that a team should never do the same retrospective format more than 3 times in a row. Either change a major piece of the format, or try a new one altogether. Not all formats will work well for all teams, but often you really don’t know how well one will work out unless you try it.

Some Boundaries
All formats should respect a few Scrum boundaries, so be sure that the your proposed format roughly adheres to the following:

  • Discuss the major things that went well in the last Sprint.
  • Discuss the major things that could potentially be improved in the next Sprint.
    • Improvements should not be changes to the Scrum Framework, but should be changes *within* the Scrum Framework.
    • Improvements should have the goal of making the Scrum Team’s work more effective and/or more enjoyable.
  • Create a plan for implementing the improvements in the next Sprint.

The retrospective can be very interactive, casual, and creative, and still cover the above main points.

What are your tips for retrospectives?

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One Response

  1. I fully agree. I try not to use the format again in the successively.
    Would be great if you can also provide a blog on list of retrospective formats.
    Am planning to use “6 thinkng hats” next. Any experience with it?

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