Retrospective: Went well, challenges, ideas

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Went well, challenges and ideas

This is a retrospective format that allows the team to reflect on the things that went well, the challenges and any new ideas that the team would like to try. It’s a basic retrospective format that can be used after a sprint-, release- or project retrospective.

The Icebreaker

The suggested icebreaker for this retrospective format is to let everybody rate the last sprint (or release, depending of the scope) on a scale from 0 to 10. 0 means that is was very bad. 10 means that is was super amazing. This gives an immediate overview of the general feeling that the team has. Also, it makes clear if everybody is more or less on the same page. Any outliers will be visible right from the start. When doing the next step of this retrospective, you can always refer back to the score that was given in the icebreaker.

Don’t spend too much time on the icebreaker and don’t go in detailed discussions just yet. The icebreaker is meant to give a general view on how the team experienced the last sprint. It is not recommended to go into detailed discussions during this step.

The retrospective format

This retrospective consists of 3 stages:

  1. “Went well:” what went well in the last sprint (or release)? Referring back to the icebreaker: you didn’t give a 0 (hopefully), so what did you think of when putting up your score instead of giving a 0?
  2. “Challenges:” what challenges us in the last sprint (or release)? What didn’t go well, or can be improved? Referring back to the icebreaker: you didn’t give a 10 (or, if you did, it’s time for a big party), so what did you think of when putting up your score instead of a 10?
  3. “Ideas:” what ideas are still in your mind? What would you like to try out next sprint (or release)? Perhaps something that you read about, or something you did on a previous project…

After explaining the 3 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.

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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