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Updated for the 2011 Scrum Guide
Here is how I define a Best Practice:
  • Best Practice -a practice that is good(but not necessarily the best) in almost all contexts and almost all team situations. This does not mean it is truly the "best" practice in all situations, nor is it necessarily the best practice for your team. The notion of a "Best Practice" in any industry or context is a Unicorn because there is no such thing, so I define it differently here to mean what most people think it means -- a good practice in almost all contexts. If someone can convey my definition in a term that is just as easy to understand as "Best Practice," then I'm all ears. Some have suggested "Great Practice" or "Great Practice in Context"

Break through the B-O-R-E-D-O-M!
Retrospectives can get boring, and when they get boring, the effectiveness of them falls off dramatically. To help prevent this boredom factor, change up your retrospective format. There are lots of websites and even a few books that discuss numerous retrospective formats. You don't even have to follow those formats down to the last detail -- change that up too!

Rule of Thumb
My rule of thumb is that a team should never do the same retrospective format more than 3 times in a row. Either change a major piece of the format, or try a new one altogether. Not all formats will work well for all teams, but often you really don't know how well one will work out unless you try it.

Some Boundaries
All formats should respect a few Scrum boundaries, so be sure that the your proposed format roughly adheres to the following:
  • Discuss the major things that went well in the last Sprint.
  • Discuss the major things that could potentially be improved in the next Sprint.
    • Improvements should not be changes to the Scrum Framework, but should be changes *within* the Scrum Framework.
    • Improvements should have the goal of making the Scrum Team's work more effective and/or more enjoyable.
  • Create a plan for implementing the improvements in the next Sprint.

The retrospective can be very interactive, casual, and creative and still cover the above main points.

Related Advice:

What are your tips for retrospectives? Feel free to use the comment section below to add your tips.
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