A Retrospective is an essential part of the Agile development process. It is a structured meeting in which the development team reflects on the progress of the previous iteration and learns how they can improve their work. The purpose of a Retrospective is to promote continuous improvement and team learning. It provides a safe space to celebrate successes, identify challenges and devise solutions.

Purpose Retrospective

The main purpose of a Retrospective is to identify strengths and areas for improvement in the development process. By working together and communicating openly, the team can gather valuable insights and formulate concrete action points to make the next iteration even better. This can be done, for example, by looking back at the previous sprint and using data and other methods to identify strengths and weaknesses. 

The place of a retrospective within Agile

The challenges of a retrospective

While Retrospectives are valuable, they can also bring challenges. It can be difficult to create an open and honest atmosphere where team members feel safe to share their thoughts and concerns. Here are some tips for addressing these challenges:

  1. Create a safe environment: Make sure team members feel respected and heard. Encourage everyone to speak openly and value diverse perspectives.

  2. Focus on facts and results: Base discussions on concrete facts and observations rather than personal opinions. This helps keep the conversation productive and solution-oriented.

  3. Ask the right questions: Use powerful questions to delve deeper into the causes behind certain events or patterns. For example, ask, "What went well and why?" or "What can we do differently next time?"

  4. Experiment with different forms of work: Use interactive work forms such as the "Stop, Start, Continue" method, where team members generate ideas about what to stop, start and keep doing.

Get started with 3 practical exercises

Mad, Sad, Glad: In this form of work, team members are encouraged to take notes on things they were angry, sad or happy about in the previous iteration. During the Retrospective, the noted items are discussed and the causes behind the emotions are explored in more detail. The team can brainstorm possible improvement actions to address the angry and sad points and increase the happy ones. The goal is to gain insight into the negative and positive aspects of work and find ways to improve the work environment. View here a video about this exercise. 

Five Whys: The "Five Whys" method is an effective way to identify the root causes of a specific problem or incident. The team begins by identifying the problem and then repeatedly asks "Why?" for each answer. Going through this series of five "Why" questions can reveal the root causes of the problem. The team can then devise solutions to address these causes and avoid similar problems in the future. This method encourages in-depth analysis and helps identify structural problems.

Appreciative Retrospective: In this form of work, team members are encouraged to give each other appreciation by giving positive feedback on the successes achieved and the efforts of their colleagues during the previous iteration. The team shares moments they were proud of, what they thanked others for, and where they saw the commitment and cooperation of team members. This creates a positive and supportive atmosphere within the team. The goal is to grow the team through positive reinforcement and foster a culture of recognition and appreciation.

Navigate here to some Retrospective signs on Mural! 


In any interactive session, it is important to have a facilitating role; this is the role/responsibility of the Scrum Master . This person ensures that the session is structured, everyone has a chance to share their input and that concrete action items are formulated. It is also important to ensure that the Retrospective provides a safe environment where team members feel free to speak openly and share ideas.

Using these practical examples regularly during Retrospectives allows the team to collaborate effectively, address issues and make improvements. It fosters a culture of learning and growth within the Agile team, ultimately leading to better results and satisfaction for all involved. The outcomes of the retrospective result in impovement stories that go on the backlog. Each improvement story has an owner and is actually planned during iteration planning. 

Starting an Agile transition?

In our roadmap, read the key stages including practical tips for a successful transition to an Agile Way of Working.