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How the Sprint Retrospective supports Adaptation (26)

July 6, 2023

Remember that Scrum is founded on empirical process control, and that adaptation is the third pillar, following transparency and inspection.


During each of the Scrum Events, and throughout the Sprint itself, the Scrum Team and the stakeholders adapt what they deem necessary in order to minimise any deviations to acceptable limits which they have identified during inspection.


Adaptation is making adjustments in order to minimise any deviations to acceptable limits concerning agreed goals.


Let’s take the Sprint Retrospective. 


During their Inspection the Scrum Team might have identified deviations from their agreed quality and effectiveness goals.
Now what to do about these?

Anything needed. Growing team members’ skills, improving interaction within and within people outside the team, the processes from having a PBI in the Product Backlog until it is in the hands of the users and the feedback is used, any of the tools and techniques the Scrum Team is using, and their Definition of Done.

Not everything at once though. One or two of the most impactful improvements that will be used in the upcoming Sprint.

What I often hear from teams is "That improvement we identified last time will take us several Sprints to deal with, so let's skip this next Retrospective session".
To me this is an indicator that the identified improvement actions are too big. Split them. Make the next improvement target smaller.
Think about it: we are breaking down Product Backlog Items to a size that a number of them can be delivered in one Sprint. Why wouldn't we do that with improvements towards quality and effectiveness goals.
Improvements and actions that are bigger than one Sprint cannot be evaluated for their impact in the next Sprint Retrospective. Result? Less transparency - one of the pillars on which Scrum is build.

Note: the Scrum Team plays along; this does include the Product Owner and the Scrum Master.



During the Sprint Retrospective the Scrum Team agrees on which adaptations they will apply in the next Sprint. These are small enough to see impact by the next Sprint Retrospective.



Together with your Scrum Team, evaluate your Sprint Retrospective:

  • Do you discuss progress towards agreed quality and effectiveness goals?
  • Do you evaluate the impact coming from the improvement actions agreed during the previous Sprint Retrospective?
  • Have you identified improvement actions?
  • Are the improvement actions small enough to be taken up in the next Sprint?


I hope you find value in these short posts and if you are looking for more clarifications, feel free to take contact.

If you want to take a deeper dive into the core concepts we are covering in this blog series, then surely check out our Professional Scrum MasterY workshop. We have some scheduled in the coming period.

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How does your Sprint Retrospective support Adaptation?

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