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Rocket Retrospective

There are times when people can become skeptical about Scrum. The challenge often comes in the form of 'there are just too many meetings'. The Rocket Retrospective is something I have created which helps to mitigate against these calls, whilst allowing the team an opportunity to reflect on past retrospectives. It is a quick and focused retrospective that can help your team realise the value of this key Scrum event.

Tools Required

  • Index cards
  • Sharpies
  • Timer
  • Data from previous Retrospectives on index cards


  1. The rocket retrospective will require some preparation. The best way for this retrospective to work is to collect post-its written by the team in previous retrospectives.Alternatively, if you do not have this data available, then write on index cards some of the key themes/topics/challenges you recall the team discussing during previous retrospectives. Have these stuck to the wall ready for when people come into the space where your retrospective will take place.
  2. This retrospective will test you and your teams timeboxing skills - so have a timer at the ready! Emphasize to your team that this retrospective will be a quick activity, and they will have a maximum of 5 minutes to complete each of the tasks:First 5 minutes: Spend this time reviewing the retrospective items from your previous sprint. During this tasks encourage the team to call out what was completed/what is in progress/and what wasn't done. Have brief conversations about the 'why' in all of this.Second 5 minutes: Hand each person a blank index card and sharpie pen. Encourage them to reflect on what they personally would like to improve for the next Sprint. Ask them to keep this high-level and not to rush into writing something down: use the full 5 minutes you have available for this.Third 5 minutes: Swap the cards around among the team so that no one has their card back. Ask each person to read the card (ask questions if this is unclear). Flip the card over and encourage the team member to write on the back an action that would help their fellow team member improve in this space. Encourage people to keep their action simple and actionable in the next Sprint. This could be setting up a conversation with someone in another team, agreeing to buddy up on an ask, sharing knowledge on a particular subject, or sharing feedback.Final 5 minutes: Return the index card to the original person who wrote the card and pose the question 'would the action on the back help you improve in the next sprint?'. Discuss where appropriate, but keep things brief. Encourage both parties to sign the card and be 'accountability buddies' for each other. Go around the room until all team members have carried out this task.

​​​​​Challenging Questions

Asking questions at the end of the retrospective may be helpful for you as the Scrum Master to gain insight for improvements to your next retrospective. In addition, participants have a final chance to speak.

Here are a few examples:

'What can we do to ensure we make action on our commitments?'

'What can each of you do in your role as an accountability buddy this Sprint?'


Not only does this retrospective offer a shorter timebox for your team, but it can also help keep team members focused.

I ran the Rocket Retrospective for a small team as a way to close off the year. The feedback received was that the focused timeboxing did not allow the distractions of phones to come into the room as the rhythm of the retrospective kept a good pace.

Give it a go and let us know how it worked for you and your team!

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