This is a guest post by RealtimeBoard.


A sprint retrospective is a great way for your team to reflect on the previous sprint, the work that was done, the goals achieved, and set your course for the next sprint.

While the majority of tools we use for retrospectives (whiteboards, sticky notes) have traditionally been used by co-located teams, the rise of the remote worker means that more retrospectives are happening in the digital realm as well.

Without the use of physical whiteboards, markers, sticky notes, etc, people doing remote retrospectives can rely on digital templates and digital whiteboards that help them collect everyone’s thoughts and opinions all in one place, wherever they are in the world.

In this post, we’ll share 5 simple and delightful templates you can use for your remote sprint retrospectives, as well as what specific elements of retrospective they can help with.

Template 1. Start, Stop, Continue

What it’s best for: to focus the team on processes and form new team habits through defining which actions to start, stop and continue.

The Start, Stop, Continue method is about quick idea development. Instead of listing all topics, grouping them, and then trying to action specific groups, this technique tries to identify actions straight away.

How to use it:

    1. Show the team the template separated into three areas, labeled: start, stop and continue.
    2. Reflect as a team on three things:
      1. What should the team start doing?
      2. What should the team stop doing?
      3. What should the team continue doing?
    3. Add your answers as digital sticky notes in the corresponding columns.

The actions don’t have to be measurable, but the previous iteration can be used to generate benchmark values to help define the actions for the next run.

Template 2. Glad, Sad, Mad

What it can help with: to understand your team’s emotional health and bring about any necessary change.

How to use it:

  1. Show the team the whiteboard divided into three areas, labeled: Mad, Sad, and Glad.
  2. Give everyone 15 minutes to come up with a list of observations they’ve made from the previous sprint.
  3. The team members should record each observation on a sticky note.
  4. Ask each participant to describe their observations and place the sticky note on a whiteboard – it should be the area that best matches the participant’s feeling, making them glad, sad or mad.
  5. Observations should be grouped by similarity. Voting takes place to determine which ones have the most value.
  6. Discuss the highest voted topics with the team: the conversation must be driven towards determining actions for the next sprint.
  7. The exercise can continue until the time is up, or all the important topics are highlighted.

Template 3. Sailboat

What it can help with: To define the vision for the team and identify any problems along the way

How to use it:

  1. Show the team a picture of the sailboat in the ocean, propelled forward by the wind, held underwater by anchors, heading towards the island and facing rocks.
  2. Explain that, similarly, a sprint has factors that slow it down and speed it up. The islands in the picture are the goals the team is heading to, the rocks are the risks they might face towards their vision.
  3. Write down what the team vision and team goals are.
  4. Ask the team to record on sticky notes things that they felt helped the sprint move forward or slowed it down. Place the sticky notes either on the sail or below the boat, indicating that they are anchors or wind.
  5. Write down the ideas within the area of risks as well.
  6. Select a team member to group all the sticky notes on the board into similar categories.
  7. Get feedback from the rest of the team as to whether the grouping is fair, or if changes should be made.
  8. Have the team vote on what the team feels are the critical groups to focus on.
  9. Start root cause analysis and develop some outcomes.

Template 4. 4 L’s

What it can help with: to look at the current situation from a factual perspective

The 4 L’s is a variation on the World Café, developed by EBG Consulting.

How to use it:

  1. Show the team the whiteboard divided into 4 areas labeled: Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed for
  2. Ask the team to write down on sticky notes everything that they liked, learned, lacked, and longed for during the sprint.
  3. Give the participants some initial thinking time and ask them to place the sticky notes on the respective areas.
  4. Split up the group into four sub-teams, one for each L. Give the sub-teams time to analyze the sticky notes on their board and to group them according to similar themes.
  5. Each group reports on their findings, and then all participants discuss together what they can do to address the individual themes.

Template 5. Quick Retrospective

What it can help with: to define the team’s key focuses of attention

The Quick Retrospective dives straight in, asking the team direct questions about the sprint: what was good and what was bad, and then capturing ideas and actions from the team. It’s a good starting point for new teams who are not experienced with retrospectives because it’s easy to understand and use.

How to use it:

  1. Show the team a whiteboard divided into four boxes: What was good?, What was bad?, Ideas and Actions.
  2. Ask the participants to list their thoughts on sticky notes and place them in the appropriate box.
  3. Discuss with the team what they want to try in the following sprint, even if it’s unclear how effective it is going to be.
  4. Get everything recorded on the board where it’s up for everyone to see.
  5. Look at all the thoughts on the board, discuss them with the team and come up with actions that they are going to take.

Hopefully, these examples have provided you with some inspiration for running your next remote retrospective. At RealtimeBoard, we’ve created a whiteboard app you can use in Jira Cloud and Confluence Server that helps keep everyone in your team on the same page. Check out RealtimeBoard in the Atlassian Marketplace today and keep up the great teamwork!

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