Scrum Rules: There Is No Break Between Sprint Review and Retrospective

June 9, 2020
3 minute read

After a team finishes its Sprint Review, the Retrospective meeting should begin immediately. Of course, there may be a small transition period as non-team members leave a meeting room or as the Team Members go back to their team room. However, there should be no work on the system done between Sprint Review and Retrospective.

This quick transition between the two meetings is primarily to ensure that everyone has a clear memory of the Sprint. If there is a gap between the two meetings it can lead to a number of sub-optimal behaviours: insights gained during the Sprint Review may be forgotten or diminished prior to the Retrospective, team members may do work without the knowledge of the rest of the team, there may be a growing desire to delay the retrospective, or even pressure to skip the retrospective.

Three common strategies have proven to effectively ensure there is no break between Sprint Review and Retrospective meetings:

  1. Strictly time-box the Sprint Review so that all participants understand there is no option to “steal” time from the Retrospective event. Allowing the Review activity to run into the Retrospective’s time-box sends a message that the Retrospective event is less important.
  2. Hold the Sprint Review and Retrospective events in the same physical space. This prevents people from having to relocate and minimizes interruption between the events.
  3. Strictly time-box the Sprint Retrospective. This is a captive meeting in which team members may speak openly and candidly – as such it can be exhausting for some members both emotionally and cognitively.

Scrum Masters should carefully observe the engagement-level of participants and dutifully prepare for each event (e.g. study and practice a variety of facilitation techniques) so as to ensure that the intent of each event is fully achieved.

The Sprint Retrospective occurs after the Sprint Review and prior to the next Sprint Planning. — The Scrum Guide

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