The Rules of Scrum: Every Sprint includes Sprint Retrospective for the team to inspect and adapt

The last part of the Sprint is the Sprint Retrospective.  This meeting is a private meeting for the members of the Scrum Team (including the ScrumMaster and Product Owner).  In this meeting, the Team Members discuss how they did their work during the past Sprint and come up with ways to improve their work in the next Sprint.  Scrum does not define any particular techniques to use during the Retrospective meeting.  The Retrospective is complementary to the Sprint Review.  The Review inspects “what” was done and the Retrospective inspects “how” it was done.  The Sprint Retrospective is critical for the team to apply the principle of “inspect and adapt” that is core to Scrum.  Missing the Sprint Retrospective is a critical failure of the ScrumMaster’s job to ensure that the principles of Scrum are being used.  If a Retrospective is missed once, what may happen is that some Team Members might feel that missing it was not so bad.  There will not likely be any immediate consequences to missing the Retrospective.  However, the attitude that the Retrospective is not important will be implanted in the team.  This then quickly leads to further compromises and eventually, the continuous improvement parts of Scrum are abandoned and the team focuses purely on the execution parts of Scrum.  The team will then fail to become a high-performance team since that high-performance state is predicated on systematic, conscious self-improvement of how the team does its work.

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2 thoughts on “The Rules of Scrum: Every Sprint includes Sprint Retrospective for the team to inspect and adapt”

    1. Hi Tyler,

      You are right: the idea of a private retrospective does not come directly from core Scrum. In fact, it comes indirectly from the literature on retrospectives which pre-dates Scrum. For example, the Retrospective Prime Directive is about creating emotional and mental safety during the retrospective. Retrospectives must be safe to be effective. Another aspect of safety is privacy. Yet another aspect of safety is self-organization. My emphasis on this point is that high-performance teams cannot develop without certain types of safety, namely that individuals feel safe from arbitrary punitive actions. Of course, a Scrum team should have aggressive long-term strategic goals (not tactical – that’s another problem!)

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