Tip for Front Loading Retrospectives

A retrospective should involve a team talking about the crucial things that happened over the Sprint. They fall into two main categories:

things that went well and things that didn’t.

While not a huge challenge, sometimes remembering things that happened throughout the sprint can be haphazard or even elusive, especially for month-long sprints. Even two-week sprints can seem like a homogeneous blur.

I want to share with you a little technique I have used and have encouraged my teams to use to effectively observe and gather important events that could otherwise be lost to forgetfulness. It’s pretty simple, are you ready?

Use small sticky notes of two colors (I use red and blue) upon which you write a short note when you observe something. Write it quickly and stick it to the inside of a notebook or throw them in a drawer. However you gather them, it should be quick, simple, and persistent.

The key is to record the event but maintain focus.

You may end up recording things that never need be said. I have found that about 2/3 of the things I note down remain in the front of my notebook. However, I consistently find that I am able to bring things up that have gone unnoticed or were forgotten by the rest of the team.

There is an additional benefit. By simply recording more observations, I create a habit of being more observant. This may sound silly and unnecessary and even wasteful, but I have not seen this to be the case. In fact, I find that simply writing things down as I observe them helps me to keep my mind at ease as I try to focus on other things.

If it’s in my book, I don’t have to fret about forgetting it.

I wrote them down in my diary so that I wouldn’t have┬áto remember” – Henry Jones Sr.

Maybe this is me fending of my own neurosis, but it works.

Let me know if this helps you!


Jason is a developer, Scrum Master, writer, teacher, coach, husband, father, and community leader out of Tulsa Oklahoma. He's been delivering software since 2007 and absolutely loves the values and principles of agility especially as given form by the Scrum framework.