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Motivations and Methods for Effective Retrospectives

8 January 2016

A sprint retrospective is a core ceremony in Scrum, at which the team discusses three aspects of the completed sprint: what went well, what needs to be continued, and what needs to be stopped. The retrospective is "owned" by the ScrumMaster. 

How do we make the retrospective engaging, interesting, and motivational for Scrum team members, so that they actively contribute? Here are some suggestions:
  • Previous retrospective action items – These either should have been completed or should be being worked on with sufficient progress, per the committed plans. This will give confidence to the Scrum team to move ahead with new retrospective action items.
  • In fact, have the retrospective action items from previous sprints always available to the team to look at. People should be able to see how they're being updated. This could be done on a wiki if the team is distributed.
  • Recognition – Start with recognitions from team members for the support they received from others on the team. This could be done as a "round table" exercise, in which each team member has one or two minutes to speak.
  • Recognition for what was done – The team deserves recognition for its achievements in the previous sprint.
  • Feedback – Every team member should get the opportunity to talk about the three key points (what went well, what to continue, and what to stop doing) in a timeboxed manner.
Consider various models for getting good input during retrospectives.
  • Ask team members to give input on the happiness index (how happy are you to be part of your Scrum team, on a scale of 1 to 5 ). This could trigger open-ended questions about actions required to improve the happiness index and team engagement.
  • Have a discussion based on the sprint timeline so the team remembers all the things that happened during the sprint. 
  • Gather retrospective input or discussion points throughout the sprint. This could be also be done on a wiki if the team is distributed.
I look forward to your further suggestions and experiences with improving retrospectives.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 3.8 (4 ratings)


Alhad Akole, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 1/12/2016 11:20:51 AM
Hi Sreejith, Liked the idea of including Happiness index as part of retrospectives.
Sreejith N.T., CSP,CSM, 1/17/2016 1:08:41 AM
Hi Alhad,

Thanks for the comment. A highly engaged team can go faster and deliver extra ordinary results as we all would have seen through our day to day discussions.

With regards
Jerome Valencia, CSM, 1/24/2016 8:28:50 PM
Good article. In fact there are online sites available where you can see lists of retrospective styles.

One site I've come across before even has a random generator that outputs various opening-retrospecting-action items generation-closing combinations.

Site 1:
Site 2:
Cord Lindeke, CSM, 1/25/2016 5:40:34 AM
Hi Jerome,

thanks a lot for the links. Especially the second one looks promising.
Sreejith N.T., CSP,CSM, 2/2/2016 10:20:19 AM
Thanks Jerome.

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