What is an Agile Retrospective?

An agile retrospective is a short meeting for project teams to reflect on the most recent stage of their project, analyze their processes, and identify things they can do better moving forward. Regular agile retrospective meetings support constant learning and improvement over the life cycle of the project.

The agile retrospective focuses on four areas:

  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • What do we want to try next?
  • What puzzles us?

Depending on the type of project, this project review technique is sometimes called an iteration retrospective, sprint retrospective, or scrum retrospective.

Why do an Agile Retrospective?

Regular agile retrospectives are a cheap, fast, and effective way for project teams to improve continuously. They:

  • Provide dedicated time to reflect, analyze, and decide on how to do things better.
  • Provide a forum to celebrate success and progress.
  • Improve team communications and create an opportunity to “clear the air.”
  • Address issues regularly, eliminating problems sooner rather than later.
  • Bring everyone up to speed on current challenges and goals.
  • Empower teams to solve problems, develop solutions, and own their decisions.
  • Provide an opportunity to reach consensus on future actions moving forward.
  • Offer a great opportunity for team building and energizing the team.

Who should do an agile retrospective?

The agile retrospective is best known as a tool for agile software development teams (including scrum, extreme programming). However, it is broadly applicable to any project.

Related templates
Tips for effective retrospectives

Agile Retrospective Template

What went well?

This quadrant identifies those things the team feels they are doing well and should continue to do.

Questions to ask:

  • What were you pleased with?
  • What produced good outcomes?
  • What tools and techniques worked well?
  • What things should we continue to do?
  • Any praise or thanks you want to give to team members?

What do we want to try next?

This quadrant includes good ideas or innovations the team wants to try.

Questions to ask:

  • What haven’t we tried before that could work?
  • What one new thing would you like to try?
  • What new approaches should we experiment with?

What could’ve gone better?

This quadrant identifies those areas that are creating problems or can be improved.

Questions to ask:

  • What went wrong?
  • What is not delivering value?
  • What areas do you see for improvement?
  • What didn’t go as expected?

What puzzles us?

This quadrant includes those things the team doesn’t understand or questions that are unanswered.

Questions to ask:

  • What unanswered questions do you still have?
  • What issues should we investigate further?
  • Are there things we do with unclear value?

How to Run an Agile Retrospective

Because project team members are often distributed across different locations, attendance at regular agile retrospectives may prove difficult. Using new tools and approaches other than the usual sticky notes and whiteboards become necessary.

Software that facilitates simultaneous online brainstorming and collaboration such as GroupMap, really come into their own in these situations.

The time to run an agile retrospective meeting will vary depending on each project. However, there’s no reason why you can’t identify and prioritize issues and develop an action plan in 30 minutes.

Scene Setting

Clearly define the scope of the retrospective – eg. which team, which timeframe.


Discuss and populate each section of the agile retrospective template.


Discuss and group any common themes.


Vote on the key areas you need to take action on.

Action Plan

Identify actions for each priority idea. Assign responsibility and timeframes to a group or individual.


Share the outcomes of the session, including the action plan, to relevant stakeholders.

Cross Device Compatibility

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