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Start Using Retrospective Patterns Beyond “what worked”, “what didn’t work”, etc.



Stage 3

Agile IQ® Level




The purpose of retrospectives is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness. [1] How this is done is up to the team to manage. Unless patterns are changed then teams can become disengaged with the continuous improvement focus that retrospectives are intended to provide.

Common Patterns

While the Scrum framework is not prescriptive in how Sprint Retrospectives are conducted, there are some common patterns.

  • Review/refection on the past Sprint
  • Idea generation and idea sharing
  • Actions for the future Sprint

Past Sprint

Team members should review what actions or behaviours they had previously committed to. When experiments had been defined, there may be the opportunity to review results.

Idea Generation

Team members can generate ideas on how to improve quality or effectiveness. This is commonly the only part of a Sprint Retrospective that teams play close attention to. The idea generation process can be changed from sprint to sprint, so as to alter patterns of thinking and generate new ideas.

There are many different ways to generate improvement ideas beyond the standard questions of “what worked”, “what didn’t work”, etc. [2][3][4]

Future Sprint

Team members can devise experiments for improvements or actions to take with a focus on improving quality and/or effectiveness. These may consist of concrete actions or behaviours to encourage.

It is recommended to standardise the idea capture/experimentation process but introduce different ways to generate improvement ideas. This helps from the process from becoming stale and keeping team members engaged.

Rotate the Facilitator

Teams can rotate the facilitator of the Team Retrospective. It does not always have to be the Scrum Master. By doing so the team may receive several benefits including having different ideas for facilitation formats from different staff members.

What to Watch Out For

  • Ensure the actions you take from the Retrospective are in the control of the team.¬†
  • Avoid just saying “collaboration worked well”. Determine¬†why the team feel they collaborated well, what they did to cause collaboration to work, and document it as a repeatable pattern.

Actions to Try

  • Identify patterns you wish to repeat in every retrospective, and which aspects you want to change on a regular basis.


1. Sutherland, J. & Schwaber, K. (2020) The 2020 Scrum Guide (TM).

2. Caroli, P. (2020) Fun Retrospectives

4. Corry, A.V. (2020) Retrospectives Antipatterns.
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