How to run retrospective

3 min readJan 8, 2024

This article goes over how to run an Agile retrospective meeting.

Vintage gray game console and joystick
Photo by Lorenzo Herrera on Unsplash


Why is retro important to a team? Because the goal of a retro is to:

  • identify what went well,
  • discuss what could be improved,
  • and come up with action items for continuous improvement.


Sticky notes on desk next to Sharpie and Apple keyboard
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

As the retro moderator — or the person facilitating the meeting — create a retro board.

Create three columns:

  1. What went well
  2. What could be improved
  3. Action items

Or with different names:

  1. Hit
  2. Miss
  3. Question

Ask the participants to fill out the board before the meeting, but you can always fill it out during it.

Before retro begins, align with the participants on the the rules, the goals, and the expected conduct of the meeting.


Colorful poster that says “The Magic Roundabout Board Games”
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

An icebreaker is an optional but fun activity that shouldn’t take more than 10–15 minutes. Some examples are:

The goal is to build team bonding, lighten the mood, and get people receptive to the retro.


Person writing on transparent whiteboard
Photo by Kvalifik on Unsplash

Set a timer for 5 minutes and ask the participants to submit ideas to the board.

If you’re conducting this remotely, ask the participants to mute themselves and turn off their camera until they’re ready.

Note: the submission process should be anonymous so people feel safe enough to bring up topics without fear of repercussion.


Six sticky notes in a grid
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Once all ideas are submitted, group them by theme. For example, if you see “Teamwork” and “Amazing collaboration,” then merge the two together.

Set a timer for 3–5 minutes and make sure to collaborate with all the participants. The goal is to ensure redundant ideas are only discussed once.


Person casting a vote in ballot box
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Once the grouping is done, ask the participants to vote on the ideas. Give everyone 3–5 votes, but let them know that they don’t have to use all their votes.

Set a timer for 1–2 minutes and sort the ideas by highest to lowest votes. This ensures the most important ideas are talked about first.


Smiling woman pointing to sticky note on board
Photo by Parabol | The Agile Meeting Toolbox on Unsplash

Go over each idea from left-to-right and top-to-bottom on the retro board. Encourage the participants to talk and come up with action items.

For each idea, set a timer for 3–5 minutes. If an action item is created, assign it to someone.

Sometimes a discussion can get heated or go down a rabbit hole. It’s your job as the moderator to ensure everything’s on track so feel free to interrupt and guide the conversation when necessary.


Sticky notes on a board
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Lastly, document the retro in Confluence or Notion. Before the next retro, go over the action items and check on how the team is progressing.

Did this guide help you? What did I miss? Leave your feedback in the comments below!