Definition

Agile retrospective

An Agile retrospective is a meeting that’s held at the end of an iteration in Agile software development (ASD). During the retrospective, the team reflects on what happened in the iteration and identifies actions for improvement going forward.

Each member of the team members answers the following questions:

  • What worked well for us?
  • What did not work well for us?
  • What actions can we take to improve our process going forward?

The Agile retrospective can be thought of as a “lessons learned” meeting. The team reflects on how everything went and then decides what changes they want to make in the next iteration. The retrospective is team-driven, and team members should decide together how the meetings will be run and how decisions will be made about improvements. An atmosphere of honesty and trust is needed in order for every member to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.Because Agile stresses the importance of continuous improvement, having a regular Agile retrospective is one of the most important of Agile development practices. A framework, such as the one below, can be used to provide structure and keep discussion during the retrospective focused.

  1. Set the stage - get the team ready to engage in the retrospective, perhaps with a warm-up activity such as Plus, Minus, Interesting (PMI) (5 mins)
  2. Gather data - create a shared picture of what happened during the retrospective (10 mins.)
  3. Generate insights -  discuess what was successful and and identify any roadblocks to success (10 mins.)
  4. Decide what to do - identify highest priority items to work on and put measurable goals on those items so they can be completed (15 mins)
  5. Close the retrospective:- reflect on the retrospective and how to improve it, and to appreciate accomplishments of the team and individual interactions  (5 mins.)

See also: six hats thinking

Selected Links

The purpose of the Agile retrospective: Improving in Agile development

Software iteration deployment: The importance of retrospectives, feedback and celebration

DZone:  What is a retrospective?

Contributor(s): Yvette Francino
This was last updated in December 2011
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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