The Sprint Retrospective - How to Answer the "What Worked?" Question

One of the best things about Scrum is the Sprint Retrospective. The Sprint Retrospective is the opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint. The Developments Team’s self inspection begins by each member of the team answering the question “What worked?”

On paper this looks like an easy question to answer but in reality it can prove quite difficult. People will tend to focus on the negatives or will give little thought to the question and end up giving banal answers or only focusing on the most recent items and events.

So how can we avoid this? Here are a few things that you can try now to make your Sprint Retrospectives more effective:

  • Review the completed User Stories in your Sprint Backlog and identify what contributed to their success.
  • Get each team member to think back through the Sprint and identify any moments when they felt like they were “in the zone” and then try to identify what made this possible.
  • Encourage team members to keep a diary of events as they occur during the Sprint.

Sources: Professional Scrum With Team Foundation Server 2010 (Chapter 10) and Scrum Guide 2011

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