best agile retrospective questions

The most popular questions in agile retrospectives

Many Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters search for the best agile retrospective questions - but which ones could that be? Obviously this really depends on your taste and many other things. But by looking at which methods are being used most often, we might find some pattern that will help us to find the best agile retrospective questions.

Best agile retrospective questions

Some considerations on the “best” retrospective questions

To be honest, the best agile retrospective questions are always the ones that fit the team's needs perfectly at the time. That's why I generally recommend trying out lots of retros to get a good feel for them:  54 fun retrospective methods for every occasion

It could be summer, for example, and it's brutally hot. Under these circumstances, not everyone is in the mood for a retrospective. You could play with it a little and do the summer retrospective. The same goes for Christmas or Easter, for example.

Looking at the rational above, in my experience as Scrum Master and Psychologist I would say there are two retrospective ideas that are the most common ones, thus, you might call them the best agile retrospective questions.

best agile retrospective questions

 

The best questions for agile retrospectives – does that exist?

Some great retrospective questions

First of all, there is a core question that I think is definitely one of the best questions for agile retros. Every retrospective should include it in one way or another:

  • What were the reasons why we were unable to complete all the planned user stories?

So if you only want to ask one question, I would recommend asking this question – assuming, of course, you work in Scrum sprints/iterations.
If you don't do this, you can also keep it more abstract: Why have we not yet achieved the goal we set ourselves for today?

In addition, the most typical or most frequent questions asked in a retrospective are basically three questions:

Best agile retrospective questions

The What Went Well retro 👍

The "What Went Well" retrospective is probably the simplest, most popular and best-known retrospective. It is based on the pattern that we find in many other retrospectives, but in the simplest form:

Open Feedback Questions

What went well?

What went not so well?

How can we improve?

The other very common retrospective idea is the so called “Keep stop start retrospective”. It consists of three questions, you might already guessed which ones:

Best agile retrospective questions

The "Keep Stop Start" retrospective 👍

Open Feedback Questions

Keep: What should we keep?

Stop: What should we stop doing?

Start: What should we start doing?

Best agile retrospective questions

The right start to the retrospective

To give your retro that certain something, playful check-ins are worthwhile. Your goal should be that everyone has contributed at least once. Because the rule of thumb applies: if you don’t say anything at check-in, you won’t say anything in the rest of Retro either… Here’s an example: 

Retro game on the online whiteboard

Duration: 5-15 minutes | Goal: Setting the stage
Sprint Animals best retrospective game online
Click on the screenshot for an overview of the retro game.

Idea: If our last sprint would be a face, which one would it be? Let them choose from the given images and explain their choice.

If you like this check-in game, you will find many more here: The 15 best online retrospective games – feel free to take a look at them 🙂.

 

Conclusion best agile retrospective questions

If you're interested in other popular, more offbeat retrospective methods, such as the sailboat retrospective or the Mario Kart retrospective, you can find them here: List of creative retrospective ideas for beginners and professionals. I am sure you will find there 🙂 .

As you may have seen, you can even open these retrospectives in our retrospective tool: Echometer. It helps you to organize the retrospective in a fun and productive way.

Most Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters run in circles...

...fixing superficial symptoms. Time to use psychology to foster sustainable mindset change.

"Many team members are afraid to speak up!"

"We discover too many unexpected issues & bugs at a late stage!"

"Why does it sometimes take me hours to prepare a simple retrospective?"

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