Meaningful Sprint Retrospective Questions You Should Ask Your Team

In this article we will walk you through the Sprint Retrospective Questions (specific to the questions you can ask in retrospective). The questions, given here can have many possible answers. Try to choose the questions relevant to your project and collect response from your entire team individually in a collective manner to understand and implement better in the upcoming Sprints.

Though there are various methods used to carry out Sprint Retrospective Meeting, one common, simple, and effective method is “question-based retrospective meeting”. It is important to understand the list of right, mind provoking questions to identify the corrective action for the upcoming Sprint.

To start with a budding team, the basic four questions can be asked are as follows. Refer the link mentioned in the reference section to have a detailed overview of the questions.

It is easy to ask questions but tough to ask the right questions. The questions should be framed in such a way that identify the key issues and find a solution to correct the issue.

Sprint retrospective questions are divided into 2 categories.

 Questions that are effective

  • Effective questions are always mind-provoking.
  • Questions those are open. – Open questions bring out answers with more details.
  • The typical “What” and “How” questions are effective when compared to the “Why” questions.
  • “Why” questions are information seeking questions at the same time offensive, and hence it has to be devised carefully.
  • Effective questions allow thinking and give time to answer and not give the answer.

Typical Sprint retrospective effective questions:

The possible questions that can be asked, to understanding the reason behind a success in the iteration. The team has surpassed the expectation that resulted in an enormous benefit to all the stakeholders.

  • What motivated us to do it?
  • What did we do differently to make it a success?
  • Which training, skill, or knowledge contributed to the difference?
  • Which strong point in you makes it happen?
  • Which strong points of your team that made it happen?
  • What is the team member’s contribution that helped you accomplish it?
  • How did we achieve it?

While questions in this section should not be asked to assess the performance of the individual or to penalize, but to gather information, and to identify the ways to resolve it in the upcoming Sprint.

  • How did it go wrong?
  • What did you do that went wrong?
  • How many are responsible for this to go wrong?
  • Where you aware of doing that it will go wrong?
  • Did you understand it wrong and hence implemented wrong?
  • Did you understand right but still it went wrong?

Questions that are powerful

  • Questions based on Assumption – What is being assumed in this situation?”
  • Ask questions to know the complete details – Listen, understand and analyze the complete fact
  • Follow up questions – Provides an opportunity to understand what has happened without passing any comments.
  • Ask questions to help the team to identify their own perceptions.
  • Be aware of the difference between assumption and fact.

Typical Sprint retrospective powerful questions:

What is the learning from this Sprint? These questions are helpful to identify what went right, and what went wrong.

  • How was this sprint executed?
  • Where did it go wrong in this sprint?
  • When did it go wrong?
  • How did it go wrong?
  • Which tools were useful?
  • Which techniques were useful?
  • Which tools were not useful?
  • Which techniques were not useful?
  • What went in a smooth fashion during this sprint?
  • What did not go smooth during this sprint?
  • What were the problems in this sprint?
  • What learning during this Sprint can educate us for the upcoming Sprint?

This section basically focuses on identifying the possible corrective actions from the past success, failure, and learning.

  • How can the strength of the individual be utilized to resolve the issue?
  • What should be done often to prevent the issue from arising again?
  • Which actions must be implemented immediately for which you have the bandwidth and capability?
  • Identify the 1 thing to be changed and explain how you could change it?
  • What strategies will work to complete the job?

After identifying few corrective actions, still, something prevents us from implementing it in the upcoming Sprint. Ask questions to understand the possible confusing things to make sure it is resolved to successfully implement the corrective action in the upcoming Sprint.

  • What prevents you from sleeping during the night?
  • Are you clear about what to expect from you?
  • Are you clear about what to expect from the team or the other stakeholders?
  • Are you aware of what is expected from you?
  • Do you have clarity in doing it like this?
  • Do you know how it worked for you?
  • What is the hidden risk in implementing this?
  • Why do you think it won’t work this way?
  • What appears to be difficult?

Corrective actions

  • What will you do in the upcoming Sprint to complete this action?
  • How will you do it to make it a success?
  • When will you do it during the Sprint?
  • Do you require help to complete this?
  • What additional support do you require?
  • How will you let me know that you completed it?
  • What will you do next after accomplishing this during the Sprint?

Summary 

Right Retrospective questions allow the team to think, at the same time provides an ownership to each team member thus making it truly Agile.  Make use of the questions given above based on the scenario and motivate your team and yourself to show improvement in the future Sprints.

While these questions are just an indicator, you can customize as per your requirement.

Reference

  1. Project Retrospective handbook, by Norm Kerth
  2. Project Retrospective Questionnaire

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