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Retrospective

Identify how to improve teamwork by reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and why. We recommend running a Retrospective with your team every couple of weeks or at the end of a project milestone.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
15 mins
Clock icon
Run Time
60 mins
Connected people icon
People
4-8
Meeples collaborating on a retrospective

Retrospective

Identify how to improve teamwork by reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and why. We recommend running a retrospective with your team every couple of weeks or at the end of a project milestone.

Meeples collaborating on a retrospective
Pencil Icon
Prep Time
15 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
60 mins
Connected People icon
People
4-8

Retrospective

Identify how to improve teamwork by reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and why. We recommend running a retrospective with your team every couple of weeks or at the end of a project milestone.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
15 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
60 mins
Connected people icon
People
4-8
Meeples collaborating on a retrospective

Retrospectives in action

A team's sticky notes from an offsite Retrospective.

This team used Confluence to summarize the conversation of their Retrospective.

A Retrospective over Zoom using Trello to set ground rules, add thoughts, and guide the discussion.

What you'll need

Remote

Video conferencing with screenshare

Digital collaboration tool (see templates)

In-Person

Meeting space

Whiteboard, or large sheet of paper

Markers

Sticky notes

Timer

Optional templates

Instructions for running this Play

1. Prep 15 MIN

For remote teams, start by creating a new collaboration document, like a Confluence page or a Trello board. For help, see templates (above)

For in-person teams, find a whiteboard or large paper, and set out Post-It notes and markers in a meeting room.

On the page, board, paper, or whiteboard, create three columns with the headings “What we did well”, “What we can do better”, and “Actions”.

And, if possible, get a neutral third party to help facilitate the meeting. This will encourage greater participation and uncover more insights.

Retrospective Confluence Template
Example: Confluence

Running this Play remotely? Use this free Retrospective template to guide the conversation and capture your session’s output.

2. Set the stage 5 MIN

  • Don’t make it personal, don’t take it personally
  • Listen with an open mind
  • Everyone’s experience is valid
  • Set the time period you’re discussing (last sprint, last quarter, entire project, etc.)
  • Focus on improvement, rather than placing blame

 

If you’ve run a Retrospective previously, quickly revisit the themes and actions from last time to build a sense of continuity. 

Tip: Customize this list

Modify the rules to fit your team’s unique needs. Add anything you think will help your team improve.

Tip: Create a safe space

Define how the information will be discussed after the Play. Will it be shared with leadership? Consider adopting the Chatham House Rule.

3. What we did well 15 MIN

Using either a digital whiteboard or a physical one, have each team member write down what the team did well, one idea per note. Post the notes, and group similar or duplicate ideas together. Discuss each one briefly as a team.

4. What we can do better 10 MIN

Have everyone write down what they think can be improved, one idea per note. Post the notes, and group similar or duplicate ideas together. Discuss each theme as a team.

Tip: Make sure all are heard

If the discussion is dominated by one or two people, the facilitator should step in and call on others before moving on.

5. Actions 10 MIN

Have everyone brainstorm actions that can be taken to improve problem areas, one idea per note.

Post the notes and group similar or duplicate ideas. Discuss each idea as a team, and assign owners to these actions and due dates as necessary.

Tip: Update your workflows

If any of the action items have corresponding Jira issues, include links to them on the page so it's easy to see their status.

Incorporate actions from the retrospective into your day-to-day, whether it’s in stand-ups, or weekly team status updates.


Follow-up

Challenge takeaways

Are follow-up tasks being completed, or forgotten? Are you getting to the root of your problems? Would a different set of activities help you dig deeper? Retrospectives can be customized—make it your own!

Variations

Past two-months map

Create a timeline spanning the past two months and have team members call out significant events. Doing this at the start of the Play helps refresh everyone's memory and sets the stage.

Dot voting

If a lot of ideas emerge in the “Actions” category, vote on which ones you’ll immediately prioritize. 

If you’re using Trello, have the team vote on the three ideas they’d like to see at the top of the list by adding their face to the card (shortcut: hover + space).  Select owners for the top-voted items.

For in-person meetings, everyone grabs a marker and places a dot on their top three preferences. Tally up the dots and follow same step as above.

Highlighting voting Power-Up in Trello
Dot Voting

If you need to find consensus on the ideas that emerge, use dot voting to guide the conversation.


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Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

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Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

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