The Five Stage Retrospective – A Guide for Scrum Masters

Building high performance

Retrospectives are one of the most powerful parts of Scrum, and something that can easily be applied in everyday life as well. I believe they can deliver huge value to teams and organisations, but many people don’t understand how to maximise the value they deliver. There is a simple framework from the wonderful Agile Retrospectives book by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby, that solves these problems, and that is what I’d like to discuss today.

Continuous improvement (Kaizen) is something we could probably all do with a little of, but achieving it is no easy matter. Many teams that I’ve observed use just one type of retrospective – ‘What went well/Not so well/Any Changes’; this can be fine from time to time, but my experience suggests if you keep trying the same thing, you will keep getting the same results (Albert Einsteins definition of insanity}.

If you mix up your retrospective types you will cause you teams to think more and begin to elicit different information. You will start to expose some other areas that previously lay hidden under the surface. Certainly once you are working with a high performing team you need to get to these corner areas to be able to continuously improve.

If you can understand this retrospective framework, and the value that each stage delivers, you can begin to think of your own ideas to try out with your own teams that will help them continuously improve, and lead to you becoming a better Scrum Master as well.
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