Cats and dogs retrospective

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Cats and dogs retrospective (went well & improve)

This is a retrospective format suitable for teams that have pets, or like cats and/dogs in general. The actual format is the known “what went well” and “what can we improve”, with some pictures and memes added to it to make it playful. This template can be used for a sprint retrospective, or for a project / release retrospective if this is suitable for your team(s). 

The Icebreaker

The icebreaker of this retrospective asks everybody to put a post-it on the pets that represent how they feel about the last iteration. The participants should not add any text or explanation to it, just dragging and dropping the post-its is sufficient. The purpose of the icebreaker is to get a general grasp on how the team feels about the last sprint and it sets the context for everybody in the retrospective. If anybody really wants to share more information about their post-it, they can do this but try to prevent spending too much time on the icebreaker. It should be a quick and easy introduction to get everybody warmed up. The actual in depth discussions will follow in the next phase of the retrospective…

The retrospective format

This retrospective consists of 2 stages:

  1. “Went well:” what went well in the last sprint (or release)? What should we do again next time? What are you happy about?
  2. “Improve:” what challenges us in the last sprint (or release)? What didn’t go very well? What caused frustration? What should we do better next time?

After explaining the 2 stages to your team, give everybody a few minutes to write down their thoughts on a post-it. After this, you can do a quick dot voting session to determine the most important one(s) and start with a discussion on those. If there are not too many post-its, dot voting might not be needed and you can discuss every post-it on the board.

While having the discussion on a topic, always focus on what’s within the control of the team. Don’t focus too much on external people or factors, but mainly on the things that are within the control of the team to identify improvement actions that the team is able to take. You want to have 1 – 2 action items at the end of the retrospective that you can implement in the next iteration(s). Remember: you will not always have big live changing action items in each retrospective. That’s also not the intention. A small action that brings a small improvements is already very good. Try to improve a little each sprint instead of trying to bring big changes at once.

About last retrospective...

A crucial part of the retrospective is to reflect on the outcome of the previous one! Teams often forget to do this, but it is very important as it gives the team the confirmation that the action items are actually important… And that we want to make sure we improve! There is a section on the top of the template where you can refer to the action items of the last retrospective. Go over them, see how you are doing in regards to them, and decide what to do next.

Rate your retro!

At the very end of the retrospective, I ask the team to quickly rate their retrospective with focus on: 

  1. Did we have a good discussion? Did we speak openly, and respect each others opinion?
  2. Do we have valuable action items? And, are we confident that we will do them in the next sprint?

We also use a feedback wall where team members can share their feedback on the retrospective. As the facilitator, you can encorporate this feedback into the next retrospective session.

Other things about the format

On the very top of the format, you can see 2 elements:

  • Action items / experiments: this is the place where you would write down the action items during the retrospective. This makes it easy to summarize them at the end of the session.
  • Idea for the next retrospective: I always like to foresee an area where people can give feedback or give input for the next retrospective. This can be feedback on the current format, ideas for a new format, tips, general feedback… Anything that can help us make the next retrospective even better! I would not make it required for people to give input in this, make them feel free to give input when they come up with something.

Download the template (for free)

You can download the Miro template for free below:

If you don’t have a premium version of Miro, you can also download the picture at the top of the screen and create the board in Google Drawings.


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