Last updated on | Distributed Agile Retrospectives

Retrospectives: Checking a Box or Making a Difference

by David Horowitz
retrospectives checking a box

TLDR: Take the 1st Annual Agile Retrospectives Survey for a chance to win an Amazon Echo Dot.

As CEO and co-founder at Retrium, a tool that helps agile teams run more effective retrospectives, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the challenges facing agile teams and how retrospectives, when done correctly, can help those teams overcome blockers faster.

In my conversations with agile coaches, scrum masters, and our customers, I hear many of the same questions on a regular basis. Some of these questions focus on productivity and engagement while others are about how other companies are utilizing retrospectives, especially what tactics are used and how distributed teams collaborate.

VersionOne helped to shed some light on these challenges with the recent release of the 11th annual State of Agile™ survey, specifically around three key findings. First, retrospectives remain in the top 5 agile techniques up from 74% in 2016 to 83%. Secondly, distributed agile teams are becoming more prevalent with 86% of teams reporting that their teams are not all co-located. Finally, while 41% of respondents cited the need for consistent processes and practices as one of the top 5 tips for success with scaling agile, there was no tool or implementation practice mentioned in the results that specifically address the need for better, more consistent retrospectives.

One can go on to hypothesize that this means retrospectives remain varied, or even ineffective, in many agile spaces despite their popularity increasing. Or you could hypothesize that the flexibility of being able to customize each team’s approach to retrospectives makes them more valuable and effective.

The truth is, we don’t know. There has never been an in-depth study of how retrospectives are used in the real world.  

It’s time that changed.

Last week, we launched the 1st Annual Agile Retrospectives Report survey with the intention of finding the common use cases, needs, and practices so we can all better understand the role retrospectives play in continuous improvement. If you’ve ever hosted, participated in, or been invited to a retrospective, we want to hear from you.

Visit or click here to start the survey immediately. As a thank you for taking the time to share your experiences, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win an Amazon Echo Dot. Plus, if you’d like to increase your chances of winning, share the survey with your Twitter followers by clicking here or including #AARR in your Tweets.

The survey is open through May 5 and we’ll be releasing the findings at Agile 2017 in August. Participants will receive the report via email as soon as it’s launched.

We hope you’ll share your experiences.


Because you are my reader I am able to give you 3 months for free with Retrium.


Working with Me Or Evolution4all

I have developed the Organisational Mastery” product. The aim of this product is to create a coalition that drives change and internal innovation alongside shared knowledge throughout the organisation. It’s extremely suitable for companies that want drastically improve the alignment between executive leadership and delivery teams.


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  1. Well, I am not impressed with the survey. One of the biggest challenges with retrospectives is that teams don’t do them. The survey had one question about that. I admitted that my team doesn’t do them regularly anymore, and I got kicked out of the chance to win an Echo Dot. Now, I don’t care about the Echo Dot, but I do care (personally) about teams not doing retrospectives. I should think that Retrium would *really* care about teams not doing retrospectives, because those teams are their target market. In my experience, teams do one or two retros, and then stop because they don’t have a good way to tie previous retros to current work. And it’s annoying to manage a spreadsheet of results, or a doc, or a wiki page. That’s why Retrium is a neat solution – it addresses those problems. So I’m surprised they didn’t want to learn more about why a team might have done retros at one time, but then stopped.

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Nils. While the reasoning behind why retrospectives aren’t happening is *very important* to us, we chose to take a deeper dive into what’s happening when retrospectives are a part of the teams’ routines for this survey. We refer to the survey and its planned output as the “First Annual Agile Retrospectives Report” with the expectation that we will be conducting this type of research every year, evolving the questions to identify additional pain and trends around retrospectives, including (potentially) why retrospectives don’t happen in the first place and/or why teams have stopped doing them.

      It’s great to hear that you’ve found Retrium to be helpful in addressing the daunting task of managing retrospective output in spreadsheets, docs, etc. and we’d welcome the opportunity to hear more about your experiences. (Also, as a thank you for this feedback, I’ve manually entered you into the drawing for the Echo Dot.)