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Powerful Retrospective Questions to Help Your Team Think

An effective retrospective helps your entire team think and maximize time to be as productive as possible before the next sprint. 

As an agile retrospective facilitator, one of the best ways to help your team create innovative solutions together is to ask great questions. But not just any basic questions will do. As the leader in the facilitator role, your questions should:

  • be open-ended.
  • not lead towards a predefined answer.
  • invite introspection.
  • encourage discovery and new ways of thinking.
  • be blameless (always refer back to Norm Kerth's prime directive!).

That's a tough list. The typical questions we ask don't always follow these guidelines. We tend to favor simple ideas and requests that fast-track decisions. But the best agile teams use open-ended questions as part of the sprint retrospective process. This helps them to develop new insights, approaches, and solutions all geared towards continuous improvement.

Additionally, asking the right questions is an important step in getting to the root of your team's pain points. For example, it's especially important for remote teams participating in online retrospectives to get the most out of their discussion time. Asking powerful questions can enhance the experience of remote retrospectives for your team and ensure that they're not only creating actionable items for improvement, but also maximizing their time spent retrospecting. When you're a distributed team with limited interaction, there's no time to waste!

How do you know if you've asked a good retrospective question? 🤔

The resulting ideas and actions! 

Let's say you're a Scrum Master, and you've asked a question to your development team regarding your previous sprint. The group should feel empowered to contribute to a reflective conversation that helps them better understand an issue. If your team is able to do this, then you have asked a great retrospective question!

What are some examples of powerful questions?

Remember that a simple question can still be powerful! Here are some examples of meaningful questions that can help your team think and learn together:

  • Can you tell us more?
  • How did we accomplish that?
  • What excites you about that?
  • Can we make that possible?
  • What are we willing to do differently?
  • What is stopping us from doing that?
  • Could we make that more effective?
  • Could we do that better?
  • Could we do that differently?
  • Why not?
  • What prevents us from doing that?
  • Are there other options?
  • What is challenging about that?
  • What still puzzles us about this?


There are many, many more possibilities. We recommend this 62 Powerful Question Card pack from Growing Agile. It's free, and a great resource to have on hand to help your team engage in a meaningful conversation without falling into the blame game. 

Asking the right questions as a retrospective facilitator is not only crucial to a successful retrospective, but also to positive team dynamics. The questions you ask can directly lead your agile team into recognizing opportunities for improvement and creating effective action plans. Keep it up and you'll be facilitating with a group of successful agile practitioners in no time!

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