sprint retrospective output vs. outcomes

Sprint retrospective output vs. outcome: 5 examples

You want to better understand the sprint retrospective output? Alright, I can help you with that!

Sprint Retrospective Output vs. Outcomes

To begin with, did you know there is a difference between outputs and outcomes? When googling “Sprint Retrospective Outputs”, this might be relevant to explain.

  • Outcomes: Generally, outcomes are your overall goals, what the business wants to achieve. Basically, they are an "objective" in the “Objectives and Key Results” or OKR-Terminology.
  • Outputs: Outputs are the actions or specific elements that contribute to achieving this outcome. You could say they are the prerequisites or the operational tactics that are necessary to achieve the goal or outcome. In the “OKR” terminology this could be “Key Results" (it is no longer abstract but something specific).

Now, let’s simply give an example using the sprint retrospective.

Sprint Retrospective Output

5 Sprint retrospective Outputs and Outcomes

One of the obvious outputs of the retrospective are action items. Why do you need action items?

sprint retrospective output vs. outcomes

Good question! Through asking this “why” question, we can identify what our objective behind this is - in other words, we can identify the outcome. In this case, the outcome of the output “action items” simple: Continuous improvement. But let’s dive a little deeper. Let’s develop a little hierarchy of outcomes and outputs for retrospectives.

I developed a small model. Our main goal/outcome as a Scrum Master or Agile Coach is continuous improvement. In my experience, the agile retrospective helps to achieve four abstract "sub-outcomes" or sub-goals thereof. I will give an example of a specific output that contributes to the 4 respective sub-outcomes.

  1. Outcome: Continuously improving team performance..
    1. Sub-Outcome: Continuous improvement. This makes a successful agile team - always trying to be better. What are the outputs that are correlated with reaching this goal?
      1. Sprint Retrospective Output: Action items Only if you put down action items in your retrospectives, you will implement improvements.
    2. Sub-Outcome: Learning the value of retrospectives It is not uncommon that the development team considers that the sprint retrospective is not necessary. What effect would this have on our team performance outcome? Well, over the long run, it would probably have a pretty negative effect. What would be an example of an output that has a positive effect on this?
      1. Sprint Retrospective Output: Nr. of successfully implemented improvements based on retrospectives. This could be a metric you measure - how often do you successfully implement an improvement in your retrospective? There are tools like Echometer Echometer' to help you do so.
    3. Sub-Outcome: Positive vibes and energy for the next sprint Obviously, team morale and positives vibes are good for team health. So how can we foster this in retrospectives?
      1. Sprint Retrospective Output: Actively praising what works Talking about “what went well” is a typical question in retrospectives - and that’s great! Because it helps to improve or keep morale up in the team.
    4. Sub-Outcome: Improving team dynamics & spirit Variables like trust, psychological safety or communication etc. are all highly relevant for a successful team.
      1. Sprint Retrospective Output: Conducting a team health check every quarter… You don’t have to do this, but it is an example for the sub-outcome mentioned above. Agile Coaches that take their job seriously oftentimes have a need to make their work measurable. A team health check that is combined with retrospectives is a great way to do this. We have a blog post with 3 tips for developing a health check in teams - and our Echometer Retro & Health Check Tool can also help you do so and talking about them in retrospectives.
    5. Sub-Outcome: Getting to know each other’s mental models. Mental models are the models by which humans perceive reality. The thing is: The more similar the mental models of teams, the better their performance. As a Scrum Master and Psychologist, I believe one of the core purposes of the agile retrospective should be to increase the awareness of each other’s mental models.
      1. Sprint Retrospective Output: Letting every team member explain their view of a problem / situation Openly sharing how each team member perceived a situation or would approach a specific challenge should be a typical routine in retrospective. Through this way, you are getting better at understanding their mental model.

Conclusion - Sprint retrospective Output

Well, a pretty interesting hierarchy on the goals of an Agile Coach or Scrum Master was just presented. Did you expect that? I didn’t when I started writing my thoughts on the topic. 😄  But I like what I came up with, because it summarizes how you should view any sprint retrospective output.

If you want to learn more about the goals of an Agile Coach, or 5 KPIs to measure the performance of the Scrum Master feel free to read the post.

Articles you may also be interested in

Try the Spotify Health Check Retrospective!

First question: "😍 We love going to work, and have great fun working together."

Sounds interesting? Try the format in our retro tool: