How to Hold Better Retrospective Sessions?

5 minute read



A retrospective is a meeting held after a product ships to discuss what happened during the product development and release process, with the goal of improving things in the future based on those learnings and conversations.

The outcome of a retrospective meeting is typically an action plan to prevent the same hiccups from happening again. Retrospectives can feel like a luxury when your team is busy with multiple projects, looming deadlines, and conflicting priorities. But they’re a necessary component of high-performing teams. They can provide several benefits, including:

  • Creating a safe space for addressing issues in a solution-oriented way
  • Bringing teams together to solve problems cross-functionally
  • Identifying opportunities to elevate the work or the process
  • Documenting team wins and challenges
  • Spurring action


The truth is we did not hold retrospective meeting in the beginning. we thought that retrospective meeting is somehow a extra session. sometimes we had remaining tasks to do and we had to finish them until the sprint finishes. Therefore, we did not have time and simply we skipped the session.

The bad thing that happened was that the problems piled up and it put a lot of overhead on us. So we decided to hold it by any means and without no excuses! As the person in charge of the meeting, I was documenting the tasks that we defined to improve our workflows.

after holding nearly 10 successful sessions, our next meetings did not go very well and nothing came of it. That is, did we not have something else to improve? of course not! here is I searched for and I share the results as follows:

Make retrospectives a habit

Establish a cadence for your retrospectives and, most importantly, stick to it. Even if you and your team don’t feel like there is much to discuss, you’ll be surprised what you will discover once everyone is in a room together.

Have an agenda

An agenda will be your best friend in this kind of meeting because it will provide a roadmap to return to should the conversation go off course. Share the meeting agenda ahead of the call so that teams have time to prepare.

When you structure your agenda, you may want to use a straightforward approach. The Start, Stop, Continue approach is a standard structure that’s accessible for most teams. Ask team members what they would like to start doing, what they’d like to stop doing, and what they want to continue doing. Those three questions will surface what the team thinks is working well, what isn’t working, and potential solutions.

You will likely have multiple retrospectives with the same team. In that case, you may want to vary your meeting framework for each retrospective. For example, maybe a few of the retrospectives have Start/Stop/Continue, but perhaps a few others use the Good/Bad/Better/Best framework. Getting creative with prompt styles can build engagement and put people in a better state of mind to contribute.

Set the stage

Set the stage means priming your team for discussion. Start with a game, like asking each team member to summarize the Sprint using only three words. Use the first few minutes of your meeting to establish an open and informal tone where people feel comfortable bringing up ideas.

Gather data

You can approach the data gathering stage much like the beginning of the “Start, Stop, Continue” exercise. Ask each team member to compile their observations about the Sprint onto cards.

Don’t forget to look at the positives

While trying to find ways to improve, it can be easy to forget to mention the things that your team already does well. This is particularly significant if your team is composed of perfectionists who have high expectations for themselves and others.

Make sure you allocate some time to discuss the small wins. These are also opportunities to learn! If you focus only on the negative aspects of your recent initiatives, you risk making your team dread retrospectives. Retrospectives aren’t meant to be platforms for beating yourself up. Rather, they’re meant for reflection, so remember to reflect on all aspects of recent work, not just the things that went less than perfectly.

“Retrospectives aren’t meant to be platforms for beating yourself up. Rather, they’re meant for reflection.”

What we can do better

Have everyone write down what they think can be improved, one idea per note. Post the notes, and group similar or duplicate ideas together. Discuss each theme as a team.

Sometimes your product retrospective meetings need retrospectives of their own

Remember, you can’t fix the problems you do not discuss. This applies to those related to your retrospective meetings as well. You don’t need to have a formal retrospective for your retrospectives. But it’s good to allocate a small chunk of time at the end of your retrospective meeting to check in with your team about how useful the process is. Retrospectives are for everyone’s benefit, so if half of the team isn’t getting much from them, you need to make adjustments for the next time around. After all, part of creating a safe space is ensuring everyone is happy to be there.

Decide what to do

Next, it’s time to decide how you will put those insights into action. The team should brainstorm solutions and put a plan in place to actualize the best ideas. It’s best to limit the number of changes Sprint-to-Sprint, so you can isolate their effects when reviewing them at the next Retrospective.

photo by Jason Goodman

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