The Scrum Master retrospective

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The Scrum Master retrospective

The goal of this format is to enable a team discussion around the tasks, responsibilities and expectations that the team sees for the Scrum Master. It also gives the team the chance to express what they need in their Scrum Master. 

The format can easily be tweaked around any other type of role within / outside of the team by changing the black post-its to the relevant activities, artifacts and/or events.

The Icebreaker

As an icebreaker, as everybody to describe the Scrum Master (role) using only ONE word. This will get everybody engaged in the retrospective and it will give you a first insights into how each participants perceives the Scrum Master role. Prevent going into detailed discussions at this point, as this is part of the next step in the retrospective.

The retrospective format

This retrospective is built around the main categories / events where the Scrum Master has an interaction with the development team. The goal is for every participant to write down, per category / event, what:

  1. They expect and/or need of from the Scrum Master 
  2. They expect and/or need from the team itself

With the goal of making the team as efficient as possible and allowing them to do they work. The format is built specifically to use within a retrospective with the development team, and doesn’t put any focus on the interactions that the Scrum Master has outside of the development team.

After explaining the stages to your team, give everybody a few minutes to gather their input. After this, shortly go over everything that’s on the board and add a few notes where needed in order to have everybody understand the content that is on the board. Group item(s) when they are related or referring to the same underlying meaning.

After this, start discussing the most important item(s) in detail. You can use dot voting to determine the most important thing(s) if needed. 

While having the discussion on a topic, always focus on what’s within the control of the team. Don’t focus too much on external people or factors, but mainly on the things that are within the control of the team to identify improvement actions that the team is able to take.

If you are doing this exercise within an existing team, you want to have 1 – 2 action items at the end of the retrospective that you can implement in the next iteration(s). Remember: you will not always have big live changing action items in each retrospective. That’s also not the intention. A small action that brings a small improvements is already very good. Try to improve a little each sprint instead of trying to bring big changes at once.

However, you can also do this exercise in a new team or in a team where there is a new Scrum Master. In this case, you don’t necessarily need to have specific action items. The expectations and needs that are writing down by the team members can be used as a guidance for the (new) Scrum Master, as it indicates what the team needs most of him/her.  

About last retrospective...

A crucial part of the retrospective is to reflect on the outcome of the previous one! Teams often forget to do this, but it is very important as it gives the team the confirmation that the action items are actually important… And that we want to make sure we improve! There is a section on the top of the template where you can refer to the action items of the last retrospective. Go over them, see how you are doing in regards to them, and decide what to do next.

Rate your retro!

At the very end of the retrospective, I ask the team to quickly rate their retrospective with focus on: 

  1. Did we have a good discussion? Did we speak openly, and respect each others opinion?
  2. Do we have valuable action items? And, are we confident that we will do them in the next sprint?

We also use a feedback wall where team members can share their feedback on the retrospective. As the facilitator, you can incorporate this feedback into the next retrospective session.

Other things about the format

On the very top of the format, you can see 2 elements:

  • Action items / experiments: this is the place where you would write down the action items during the retrospective. This makes it easy to summarize them at the end of the session.
  • Idea for the next retrospective: I always like to foresee an area where people can give feedback or give input for the next retrospective. This can be feedback on the current format, ideas for a new format, tips, general feedback… Anything that can help us make the next retrospective even better! I would not make it required for people to give input in this, make them feel free to give input when they come up with something.

Download the template (for free)

You can download the Miro template for free below:

If you don’t have a premium version of Miro, you can also download the picture at the top of the screen and create the board in Google Drawings.


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