Luis Goncalves

The Instant Retrospective

by Dominic Krimmer
instant Retrospective


The Instant Retrospective helps agile teams to tackle problems instantly. It’s a useful way to fix critical topics without further delay.

The strength of this technique is the strong focus and solution orientated approach! It gives you the chance to fight against problems that prevent the team to perform.

If you are interested in getting some extra Agile Retrospectives exercises, I created a blog post with dozens of Agile Retrospectives Ideas, check them and see if you find something interesting.

What you can expect to get out of this exercise

Normally at the end of an iteration, the team runs their regular retrospective that focuses on the team and the process. The Instant Retrospective is a spontaneously way to create instant improvement! You can come to an agreement very fast so that you will get rid of impediments right away without any further delay. This exercise will teach the team to solve problems by themselves without waiting for the upcoming daily stand-up or regular retrospective. The team will learn how to take care about constant dialogue and discussion so that they can help others to achieve the common objective.

This exercise will teach the team to solve problems by themselves without waiting for the upcoming daily stand-up or regular retrospective. The team will learn how to take care about constant dialogue and discussion so that they can help others to achieve the common objective.

When you would use this exercise

You can run this exercise whenever you want – But not as often as you want! In the normal way, you would rise problems or improvements at the end of the sprint. But if you think that there is a topic that just cannot wait until the next regular retrospective, call your team instantly!

Evaluate and assess the problem that has to be tackled very well and decide if you could solve it with an instant retrospective within a timeframe of about 30-45 minutes. The Instant Retrospective should be used as an exceptional way on how to find an improvement immediately. It should NOT replace your regular retrospective.

How to do it

instant retrospective
This is an example of an Instant Retrospective because our Test Workflow did not work.

One of the most important detail about the Instant Retrospective is the focus on one single topic. Every team member is allowed to raise his voice within a sprint and start the Instant Retrospective.

Regardless of who starts the initiative, there must be a very clear understanding why the topic is important. Here is a set of questions you can use in moderation to get your problem solved:

What is the topic?
This retrospective is a One-Topic discussion – One single issue that has to be improved! Therefore it is essential to get everybody on board. Don’t take to long on explaining the problem – Make it short and clear so that you have the full attention and understanding of every team member.

Why is it important?
Get everybody on the same page and make clear why this issue is a problem and why it is important to improve right away. As you have evaluated the topic very well, you should have excellent arguments why this issue cannot wait until the next regular retrospective.

This part is quite important because if people understand the purpose of something, they will be much more engaged in finding the right solution.

How can we solve it?
This is the moment where the complete team comes up with potential solutions – The Action Points. Although you might have a solution in mind, don’t push people to accept your personal solution.

Give them the chance to find their way to get the problem fixed – If everybody understood the problem, it’s very likely that they will come up with an even better solution.

The second advantage of creating solutions by the team is that it is more likely that they will apply it autonomously afterwards. Otherwise, it would be a typical manager situation where they get told to change something in this way, and they will just don’t care and not take it seriously.

In an agile environment, it’s essential for success that every member of the team learn how to interact and collaborate.

Once team members came up with some possible options that could improve the current situation, get sure that everybody in the room agrees on the action point. A facilitator should take care of making the actions points visually in the room.

A good way is setting up a Flipchart with all solution orientated items. Afterwards, you can hang it up in the room – That makes the topic present and raises awareness afterwards.

An Instant Retrospective should not take too long. Make it time-boxed! Depending on the teams´ size, let them know before you start in which time frame you are planning to solve the issue. This can help you to avoid off-topics. From my experience, 30-45 minutes is an adequate time frame.

In the last step, you summarise all the actions points the team came up with.These generated action points are supposed to be applied right afterwards. If there is a point that has to be done by a single person, ask the team who will take care on it.

As you made all points transparent, recheck all items in your next regular retrospective by verifying if the situation improved.

I wrote this blog post because when I came up with this idea, I ran the experiment in one of my teams and I’ve seen the power and advantage of this retrospective. That’s why I wanted to share it with all of you!

What is your opinion? Do you have questions? Please send me feedback! I’d love to hear from you!

PS: Thanks to Luis for allowing me to be a guest author. Visit my blog at and follow me on Twitter: @dkrimmer84


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Dominic Krimmer

About Dominic Krimmer

I have been working as a Software Developer since 2001, being a Scrum Master since 2009. So far, I had the great possibility to collect cool experiences in agile methods in different companies like CHIP, Sixt, and HolidayCheck


Share your point of view

  1. Hi Dominic,

    I enjoyed the article and it’s something I touched on in a blog post recently “” , questioning if Scrum teams do real continuous improvement via the retrospectives. We have done “Instant Retrospectives” before, but just never called them as such 🙂

    I think the most important point is to clearly state the action item and “who does what by when” (coming from the Team) always works well – when the responsible person for the action is not clear and the followup is done in the next retro, it is often left unfinished.