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‘15% Solutions’ In Sprint Retrospectives

‘15% Solutions’ In Sprint Retrospectives

During Sprint Retrospectives: have you ever heard your team members saying something similar to ‘Nothing will change here’, ‘There is nothing in our hands, we give ideas but …’, ‘Nobody listens here’?

If you have and struggle with it, then this article may help you.

What is Sprint Retrospective


The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint. — Scrum Guide

Each Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to get better and reaffirm its commitment to continuous improvement. If it is not resulting in identifying an improvement action and implementing it next Sprint, then it is a missed opportunity for the Scrum Team.

Art Of The Possible

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Sometimes it feels, continuous improvement is impossible. However, I have experienced that no matter how hard the situation is there is always something a team can do to get better, even if the improvement is very small.

Rather than always trying to focus on big improvements, focus on making continuous improvement a habit. Continuous improvement is essential in a complex environment.

One technique that I have found useful in such a situation is using Liberating Structures- 15% Solutions in a combination of 1–2- 4- All.

What Are Liberating Structures

Liberating Structures are easy to learn, thought-provoking, and engaging ways that are useful for groups/teams. These enable group thinking and make sure all voices are heard.

Liberating Structures quickly foster lively participation in groups of any size, making it possible to truly include and unleash everyone. —

Why Liberating Structures 

Liberating Structures are great for facilitating conversations and meetings. They invoke greater collaboration and participation, which is key in any group setting. This collaboration and participation lead to innovation, purpose, inclusion, and also fun.

Applying 15% Solutions & 1–2–4-All During Sprint Retrospectives

Below are the steps and details that I have used over time. This has worked for me but as teams’ compositions are bound to be different so I would suggest to inspect and adapt, especially with the suggested times and group formation.

Step 1:

Step 2: Discuss with them how the team can better in terms of people, processes, practices, behaviors, and tools. At this moment the team can discuss how did the Sprint go.

Tip: It would be great if a common purpose can be identified. Example: How to improve the Definition of ‘Done’.

Step 3: Give each team member 5 mins to answer ‘What is their 15%’ i.e. what they can do to get better, no matter how small. The key here is to come up with something they can start immediately with no external help.

Step 4: In pairs let team members share their ideas. One person at a time. Give this activity 3 min each so 6 min in total.

Step 5: Let both people provide consultation to each other. They can ask clarifying questions and offer advice. Again one person at a time. Give this activity 5 mins each so 10 mins in total. Together refine the ideas and choose one to proceed further.

Tip: Don’t throw the other idea away. Sometimes teams identify that they can implement multiple ideas. It is good to keep an Ideas Backlog.

Step 6: Now in 4s or small groups, discuss the chosen idea of each pair and repeat the process defined in Step 5. Give 5 mins to each group and 10 mins in total.

Step 7: Continue the process with all team members i.e. two large groups. Repeat the process defined in Step 5. Give 5 mins to each group and 10 mins in total.

In the end, the team will have the top idea that they can apply immediately without any external help. Something which is in their control. This activity helps teams identifying low effort but high-value action items. Frequently, this enables teams to choose more than one improvement actions.

Many times in pursuit of faster delivery and big improvement items such as organizational level impediments or need of a specific skill or tool, we forget that a lot can be achieved with many small efforts. It provides team members with intrinsic motivation and technical excellence.

The above-mentioned technique builds a habit of getting better and one step forward, no matter how small. It builds art of the possible.

I have tried to show the above steps in the below picture:

If you have tried this before or are planning to try it in the future, then please share your experience.

Also, please provide your feedback so that I can inspect and adapt, and get better in serving you via my articles.

If you are interested in learning more about how to make the best use of Sprint Retrospective then I deliver a related course Mastering Sprint Retrospective.

You can also contact me at


Scrum Guide 2017

Liberating Structures:


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