If you hold regular sprint retrospective meetings, you know that sometimes they can be a little awkward and inefficient.
Inevitably, there's some people on your team that will talk a bit more than others, while other people on your team will not utter a word (despite your repeated attempts to create an environment of psychological safety).
The reality is that the ongoing feedback loop that sprint retrospectives provide is super helpful. After all, you need to discover ways to improve and grow as a team. Fortunately, that's where sprint retrospective templates can help. The structure that a template provides sets an expectation that enables just enough consistency to allow people on your team to prep and know what they are getting themselves into.
In other words, using a template eliminates a lot of the variance that leads to a sub-par meeting. Now let's jump into the specific examples you can use.
1.) Start, Stop, Keep Template
The first option for a sprint retro template is the "start, stop, keep" method (also known as "start, stop, continue." This template is my favorite and is centered around the following questions:
- What should we start doing?
- What should we stop doing?
- What should we keep doing?
I find this template to be simple, yet extremely effective. In particular, this template focuses on three elements:
- Areas of opportunity (new things that should be started)
- Blockers (things that the team should stop doing)
- Areas with existing momentum (areas where the team should continue executing)
If you'd like to implement this template, you can three categories on a whiteboard (or ask these questions in Friday) and have your team fill out areas
2.) Glad, Sad, Mad
This next template isn't my favorite, but should provide more inspiration for how you can format your sprint retrospectives. Consider asking the following questions:
- What made the team glad?
- What made the team sad?
- What made the team mad?
Here's why I'm not in love with this template - it's a bit too polarizing and will stunt the conversations. If you are trying to kickstart the conversation, asking super polarizing questions may not be an effective way to start a conversation. If your team is tight-knit, asking these questions may be a good way to be more efficient though.
Alternatively, you could run this sprint retro template on a quarterly basis, to make sure you don't miss any stuff that might fall through the cracks. We just think there are better ways to understand and improve your agile processes.
3.) Fast Retro
The quick hits template is the easiest way to add structure to your sprint retrospective meetings. With this template, you can ask the following questions:
- What's going well?
- What's not going so well?
- Any important learnings you'd like to share?
These questions are a bit softer vs. the "glad, sad, mad" template and there's a focus on sharing learnings.
4.) Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed For
This template is known as the Four L's. This is one of our favorite templates and asks the following questions:
- What did you like about this sprint?
- What did you learn in this sprint?
- What was lacking in this sprint?
- What did you long for in this sprint?
The last question is a bit strange, but it's another approach to create an environment of psychological safety. With that being said, we have a few tips below to encourage this:
The questions are only the beginning...
We hope you enjoyed the templates above! We have a few parting thoughts on how you can make your sprint retrospectives much more effective:
- Ask the questions asynchronously. Sprint Retros can be awkward when everyone is sitting and no one is contributing. If you ask the questions beforehand, it gives people time to prepare. Then, you can spend your time better diagnosing vs. waiting.
- Make sure to have action items - it's a massive waste of time to have a meeting and leave without any action items. The point of the meeting is to discover ways to improve...and then improve in the future.
- Be accountable for past discussions - we recommend reviewing the past retrospective action items at the beginning of the meeting and asking the team, "have we successfully made the necessary changes?" If you keep adding more items without making the proper changes, your team will feel like you are wasting their time.
We hope this guide helps you run better sprint retrospectives!