Khoa Doan

The 4 Soils - Sprint Retrospective

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Scrum is like a house, where the team can be safe and self-organize. They will build trust and continuous improvement. Respect Scrum team as an ecosystem will help the team evolve and build up teamwork, and the values will come Day by Day, Sprint by Sprint.

every Sprint, Sprint Retrospective is an excellent chance to inspect and adapt the way of working. There are many formats to help Scrum Master facilitates the Sprint Retrospective. But I always think about the format that can focus on the team environment, the ecosystem. I keep thinking and uphold that idea, and I found the inspiration from the "Parable of the Soils. Borrow that parable; I create the Sprint Retrospective format “The 4 Soils”. The meaning of this format is to focus on how to help the Scrum team define what is the good/ bad impact to the house o of Scrum. From that, team will have the action or change to improve/ maintain the ecosystem.



This format will help the Scrum team, sprint by sprint, notice the harmful impacts, maintain the environment, and keep the "Good Soil"




    You can download the artwork above then try to apply the format here: Click here

    Steps to facilitate:

    1. The facilitator explains the method and 4 areas with the team (5-10 min):

    • The Birds: The impediments can harm and impact the self-organization of the Scrum team.
    • The Rocky Ground: What Scrum team thinks would be useful for the team to do the work better but still missing. Or anything they need to remove as it prevents the evolution of the team.
    • The Thorns: Focus on Team issues, like - team conflicts, lacking openness.
    • The Good Soil: The good things the team should keep and uphold.

    2. The facilitator asked the question: "How do you think about the last sprint? which are The Birds, The Rocky Ground, The Thorns, and The Good Soil?"
    • ​Invites people to write down their idea in the post-its for each area. (10-15 min)

    3. Go through 4 areas with the team. Invite a discussion in each area. (15 - 20 min)
    4. The facilitator asked the question: "How can we improve the environment in the next sprint?"
    • Collect actions that can deal with The Birds, The Rocky Ground, The Thorns. (20 min)

    5. Help team order 3 top actions need to do to improve the environment for the team. (10 min)


    ​The 4 Soils - Sprint Retrospective by Khoa Doan - Scrumviet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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