17 Sprint Retrospective Examples for Exciting End of Sprints


Keeping your agile team engaged is critical so trying a different using different end of sprint retrospective examples can spruce things up. You want to make it as fun as possible. We spend enough time being serious at work.

Regardless if its XP, Scrum, Kanban, retrospection is one of the most important events in bringing a team success.

The idea behind retrospection is to find out what went well, what could be improved, and what could have been done better to help facilitate continuous improvement. The team will provide feedback on the progress of a project. It should be an open discussion where everyone gives their honest feedback.

There are several ways to hold a agile retrospective event. The easiest way is for every member of the team to enter their feedback on a spreadsheet and then action items are taken if the feedback requires it. However, this method gets boring and that is why agile retrospective templates come in.

The best retrospective I have attended were the less serious easy going meetings. The team felt comfortable around each other and weren’t worried about what they say. As an Agile coach it is your responsibility to put the team at ease.

Retrospectives bring a team together giving an opportunity to celebrate what went well but also to reflect on what could of went better and how to improve,

sprint retrospective examples
RetroTool | Online, remote retrospectives made easy (Free and easy to use without login)

Facilitating a Sprint Retrospective

Retrospective technique are short meetings held at end of every team sprint. These meetings are ideal for team building and also finding loopholes in the development process. During the meeting, teams need to come together and share ideas.

The format should be as simple:

  1. Start with Icebreakers where they play simple games to bring members together and set the atmosphere for members to feel free to give honest feedback
  2. Setting the stage by introducing the retrospective topics and templates so that members can be ready with their feedback
  3. Combining ideas from different people on the team, giving every individual a opportunity to provide their inputs
  4. Voting on priorities where members see what is more important and what can wait
  5. Follow up actions, such as solving problems that have come up in the process of running the project

After each release/iteration, the Scrum Master/Team Leader should hold a retrospective which can also be called an intraspective. The aim of the retrospective is to improve methods and teamwork by reviewing the past iteration/release. There are 3 core questions that should be answered in every retrospective:

  1. What is going well
  2. What areas could be improved
  3. What should be we be doing differently

Generally, a retrospective is time-boxed to 2 hours and is based on brainstorming solutions and commit to a solution and discuss again, if success adds to the process. Retrospectives can be highly effective as they happen during development process providing immediate feedback on how the process is performing. If used correctly retrospectives can result in:

  • Improved productivity
  • Improved capability
  • Improved quality
  • Improved capacity

Esther Derby and Diana Larsen defined a 5 step process for holding retrospectives.

Step 1: Set the Stage

Setting the stage is all about setting the tone of the meeting and getting the team on board. Retrospectives work best when there is a lot of engagement and genuine feedback from the team. It is recommended to get people talking early by introducing themselves and their role but if the team members don’t change very often this might be seen as overkill. Next, the Scrum Master/Team Leader sets an agenda and rules for the meeting. To increase comfort level of team members to participate in the meeting the team can play the following games

Check In: Round robin where people give 2 sentences on what they want to get out of retro

Focus On/Off: Get people give their opinion on each pair of words ie. Conversation vs Argument, Understanding vs Defending

ESVP: The team anonymously identify their attitude towards retrospectives as one of the following:

  • Explorers: eager to discover new ideas
  • Shoppers: look for useful info and happy go home with 1 idea
  • Vacationers: not interested in retro but happy to be away from work
  • Prisoners: feel like being forced to attend

The total scores are kept and the individual votes disposed of. Then the team is asked how they feel about the results.

Working Agreements: small groups and create agreements, create master list

Step 2: Gather the Data

Next step is gathering feedback from team members on what happened during iteration. The goal is to determine a common vision of the iteration. The team leader can use the following team based facilitation techniques to get more interaction between team members:

  1. Timeline: The team creates a timeline of the iteration highlighting any milestones, issues occurred during the iteration.
  2. Triple Nickles: 5 groups are given 5 minutes on 5 ideas 5 times
  3. Colour Coded Dots: Team uses sticky dots to show emotions where emotions ran high/low during the iteration.
  4. Mad, Sad, Glad: Team uses coloured cards to describe emotional reactions during iteration
  5. Locate Strengths: Team discusses what went well during the iteration.
  6. Satisfaction Histogram: Team uses a histogram to demonstrate satisfaction for particular parts of the iteration.
  7. Team Radar: Team assesses performance against previous process improvement goals
  8. Like to Like: Team recalls experiences during iteration and compares reactions to events.

Step 3: Generate the Insights

Fishbone Diagram Virtual teams
Using Fishbone Diagram with Virtual teams and Miro

Once the data on the iteration has been gathered it needs to be evaluated.  The data can be evaluated using the following brainstorming techniques:

  1. Five Why: The team works in pairs where they look at an issue and try find a solution by asking “Why?” numerous times to any reason for the issue helping determine the root cause.
  2. Fishbone Diagram Analysis: Also called Ishikawa diagram it is a technique used to identify root cause demonstrated in the diagram to the left. The team draws out the diagram, each branch is one area and then within that branch are possible reasons for that branch. The diagram should have all possible causes and which area the issue came from.
  3. Prioritise with Dots: Team uses dots to vote on what they feel is important to them.
  4. Identify Themes: The team identifies recurring patterns in the data gathered.

Step 4: Decide What To Do

After the data has been evaluated and the team have the insights into the issues they must decide how to rectify them. The technique called “circle of questions” can be used to give individuals opportunities to provide solutions where a person picks an issue and the next person proposes a solution.

It is very important that any goals created to rectify an issue are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely). This will help ensure the goals are achievable within the next iteration and can be reviewed after. To sort the issues the team can use an action wheel where each item is categorised simply by choosing Keep/Drop/Add or Start/More/Less.

Step 5: Close the Sprint Retrospective

The final stage of the retrospective is formally closing it. There 4 tasks identified to close the retrospective is:

  1. Plus/Delta: What they want to do more of and want to change
  2. Helped, Hindered, Hypothesis: Feedback on retrospective itself giving everyone an opportunity to give their feedback.
  3. Return on invested Time: Team grade meeting 1-5
  4. Appreciations: The team members express appreciation to each other.

Esther Derby & Diana Larsen Going Through 5 Stages

>> For more information check out this PDF extract of Esther & Dianna book 

How to facilitate a retro like a pro

Mistakes to Avoid for End of Sprint Retrospectives

There are many retrospective ideas for remote teams and agile retrospective tools free online for teams. Teams can choose retrospective tools online, or they can use physical boards; whatever they find easy to use and enjoy. Teams need to avoid:

• Groupthink and instead offer honest individual ideas
• Being technology-dependent at all times
• Arguing amongst each other, but instead perform deep analysis of everyone’s ideas
• Avoid negativity and instead focus on the goals

Instead of the entire team airing their ideas, individuals or small groups within the team need to sit and brainstorm. This way, the ideas will be more honest and teams can forge forward with ease.

17 of our Favorite Agile Retrospective Examples

Glad, Sad, Mad Sprint Retro Template

Glad, Sad, Mad Sprint Retro Template
Built with Miro the online whiteboard

This is a template for design thinking. Instead of looking at the actual progress of the project, the template looks at the emotions of the team members. If teams are feeling burnt out or exhausted, the three columns can help them bring out their emotions and check issues that are affecting them.

Start, Stop, Continue

This retrospective template does as its name says. It allows you to outline what needs to start, what to stop, and what should continue. There are three columns for these three sections and members can use them to brainstorm.

Sailboat Retrospective Template

sailboat-retrospective-template
Check out this free miro sailboat template

Sailboats, in this case, represent teams. The sailboat is supposed to steer the teams towards the goals. It is, therefore, a good tool to assess the progress at every stage of the project.

It looks at successes in terms of wind (which pushes the sailboat forward) and goals in terms of an island (where teams are supposed to go).

It looks at anchors as challenges holding the team back and rocks as threats along the way. Once teams give feedback based on that, they are able to forward.

Starfish retrospective Template

Starfish retrospective template

This template helps to find out what team members got out of a project sprint. It is so named, thanks to the five arms of the template. These include what to keep doing, what to do less, what to stop doing, what to start doing, and what to do more of.

Online Version: The Starfish Retrospective Template | Metro Retro

The 4 L retrospective

Retrospectives with parabol
Free Online Agile Retrospective Meetings | Parabol (Free up to 2 teams)

The 4L template has four quadrants where teams can enter what they liked, what they learned, what lacked, and what they longed for. Teams can be in small groups in which they can brainstorm on ideas for each of the quadrants. From the ideas they enter on the quadrants, they can create a plan for moving forward.

Liked, Learned, Lacked

This is a template with three columns. It operates the same as the 4L retrospective template. In this case, you will have a column for what you liked, what you learned, and what you lacked. Teams can work in small groups to brainstorm on ideas.

Feedback Grid

feedback grid agile retro tool
Feedback Grid Template | MURAL

A feedback grid has four sections. It comes in handy when project teams need to record feedback after product testing. All positive and negative feedback need to be on the grid to ensure that nothing is lost by the time the project ends. The four quadrants have the following sections: Questions, Ideas, Criticisms, and Likes. Teams can fill the sections using digital sticky notes, or they can have a physical board with sticky notes.

Three Little Pigs

Three-Little-Pigs-Agile-Retrospective
Three Little Pigs – Scrum Retrospective | Agile Avengers (agileavengershub.com)

This template allows teams to identify actions for the short term, medium, and long term to bring the project to fruition. You can use it to analyze the current condition and project the future. The template is in three columns. House of straw for things that could fall apart any time, House of sticks for things that need improvement, and House of Bricks for things that are stable and do not need to change.

Rose, Thorn, Bud

The rose represents what has worked out well and needs to continue. The thorn represents challenges that you have gone through and the bud represents the opportunities and possibilities that the team has. These three sections appear in columns where you and other team members can give their input.

Quick Retrospective Template online
Joel Blackie’s Festival Retrospective template | Miroverse

I like, I wish, what if?

If you are looking for a design thinking template, this will give you the platform you need. You can use it to think of the next steps of the project before you start implementation. The template is able to turn negative feedback into constructive criticism.

Working & stuck

Working, Not Working Retrospective – TeamRetro

Working & Stuck template looks at what is currently working and needs to continue and what is not working (is stuck) and needs to stop or get an improvement. There are only two columns in the template where you can fill in your ideas.

Quick Retrospective

If you are pressed for time and you need constant updates on the project, you can use this template. It is a simple template with four sections. The first section looks at what has been good, the second what was bad, the third takes ideas on improvement and the fourth is for actions to be taken.

Anchors and Engines

Anchors-And-Engines-Color-free-dwonlaod-template

Anchors are things that are stalling the progress of a project while engines are things that steer the project forward. Teams should work in groups to brainstorm on what goes to each column

Mountain Climber Retrospective

Mountain Climber Retrospective Agile Scrum
Retrospectives – Scrum Adventures

This is a retrospective template that requires team to imagine being at the top of a mountain. To get there, they needed ropes (things that helped them), they battled boulders (unforeseen obstacles) and the weather (challenges) and they needed first aid (solutions to problems).

Lessons Learned

This is an ideal retro template for teams analyzing work at the end of the project. It gives teams a platform to draw lessons from the development process. Through it, teams document failures and wins, and they can use that when working on other projects in the future. The template has four quadrants where teams list what was successful, unsuccessful, planned, and unplanned activities.

Trello Agile Retrospective Templates

agile retrospectives trello collection
Retrospective Techniques for Coaches, Scrum Masters, and Other Facilitators | Trello

Hot Air Balloon Retrospective

Hot Air Balloon Agile Retrospective
Hot-air Balloon – Bad Weather | FunRetrospectives

This retro template works the same as the sailboat retrospective template. With this template, teams need to see themselves floating in the air and fighting elements, such as wind, hot air, the sun, storms, and weight. Although there is no metaphor for the goal, the template helps teams analyze challenges they may find along the way.

You can organize agile retrospective ideas in any of the following templates:

Why are Agile Retrospective Templates Important?

It is essential for all agile teams including a remote team. It provides the time teams need to reflect and analyze the progress of a project. A team will also find ways to do things better. Besides finding pitfalls, teams get a chance to celebrate the success and progress they have had so far.

Other benefits that agile retrospective offers include:

  • Improved communication between the team members
  • Time to address any issues between the members and curb problems before they exacerbate
  • Inform all members of any challenges and remind them of the project goals
  • Empower agile teams to solve problems on their own
  • Plan on future actions as a team
  • Offer an opportunity for team building and to energize the teams

Agile retrospective templates are ideal as they offer a simple framework for teams to collect feedback. Unlike a spreadsheet, which doesn’t have any fun structure, templates are simple and easy to use and remember for teams.

Software development teams (scrum team) will benefit from retrospective templates more. However, the templates work perfectly for different projects. You can do agile retrospection after every sprint or at the end of a development project. If you have short (a few weeks) projects, you can have a review after the completion of the project. However, if your project runs for a couple of months, you might need to hold a retrospective event after a sprint.

TitleSuitable ForTools NeededOnline Version
Glad, Sad, Mad TemplateFor motivating teams when team morale is lowPhysical boards or online templatehttps://retrotool.io/
https://www.teamretro.com/
Start, Stop, ContinueProject teams, performance reviews, and agile sprintsOnline templatehttps://retrotool.io/
Liked, Learned, LackedFor analyzing a project when all work is done.Online Toolhttps://retrotool.io/
Sailboat RetrospectiveAgile sprints for all projectsOnline toolhttps://app.conceptboard.com/board/03z7-356b-mtx8-xi28-63b6
Starfish retrospectiveAgile sprint retrospectiveCan be done online or physicallyhttps://www.teamretro.com/retrospectives/
The 4 L retrospectiveIntrospection at the end of a projectOnline Toolshttps://www.teamretro.com/
Feedback GridCollecting feedback during the product testing stageDigital sticky notes on a digital template or a physical board and physical sticky noteshttps://www.teamretro.com/
Three Little PigsFor finding loopholes in a project processOnline template or physical board with sticky noteshttps://easyretro.io/retrospective-ideas/
Rose, Thorn, BudSelf-reflection on projects or reflecting on overall projectsOnline boardshttps://app.conceptboard.com/board/c1h5-qbq8-zb4t-dx4a-6kxp
I like, I wish, what if?It is an ideal retrospective template to hold after a meeting or a workshop, or you can even have it at the end of a projectOnline template with sticky noteshttps://www.teamretro.com/
Working & stuckFor when there are challenges stalling project progressOnline template or a physical board and sticky noteshttps://www.parabol.co/templates/sprint-retrospectives/working-stuck
Quick RetrospectiveQuick retrospectives and can also be used for personal reflectionsTemplate online 
Anchors and EnginesFor agile sprints.Online templatehttps://www.teamretro.com/
Mountain Climber RetrospectiveFor analysis at the end of a projectOnline template 
Lessons LearnedAll teams at the end of a projectPhysical template with four quadrants 
Hot Air Balloon RetrospectiveAgile sprintsOnline tool or physical boards with sticky notes 
Table of Agile Retrospectives

Agile end of Sprint Retrospective FAQ

What Agile teams often get wrong with the retrospective?

A good agile retrospective should be kept process light so it is simple top follow and let the conversation flow. What teams get wrong though is not time boxing responses by individuals so everyone in the team gets an opportunity to speak.

What is a Good Sprint Retrospective Template?

A retrospective template has three to four sections or quadrants where teams enter information. In general every retro can be tied back to these 3 questions: What activities went well? What activities didn’t go as well? What should we continue?

Why do I need a retrospective template?

Having a retrospective templates enables the team to have the retrospective quicker to setup and gets straight to the teams feedback. Having the team not have to worry about about the format is a sign of a great template.

 How to choose a retrospective template

If members have had agile retrospective meetings before, they should refer from the templates of the previous retrospective to see if there are problems that recur. Templates should be stored for review in the next retrospective.

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