Retrospective Template Definition
Online whiteboards help facilitate many different kinds of exercises. The core purpose of these exercises is to help improve efficiency and communication throughout your workflow. Few templates facilitate simple improvements better than the retrospective template.
A retrospective template is a tool that helps review previous projects or sprints and optimize your team’s workflow for the future. Usually, they consist of sections that communicate positive and negative feedback and allow you to create action items to incorporate this feedback into your next project.
Retrospectives are a very versatile activity and are often used as a means of continuous improvement to help teams reach their goals. If you conduct retrospectives regularly, you can begin mapping patterns of inefficiency and can create workflows that increase everyone’s productivity. Additionally, you can diagram what works best for everyone and focus on giving people the best opportunity to succeed in the future.
Because the retrospective template is so versatile, it comes in many different forms and can go by multiple names. Globally people refer to retrospective templates as “agile retrospectives,” “iteration retrospectives,” “quick retrospectives,” or “sprint retrospectives.” Along with different names, there are many different versions of a simple retrospective template you can use. We’ll discuss four popular alternatives to our traditional retrospective template below.
Retrospective Template Explained
Using a retrospective template is extremely simple. There are only a few sections to fill out; the most important part of this activity is implementing the changes effectively. Here is a brief walkthrough of our retrospective template.
- Focus: The first step is narrowing your focus to a specific project or sprint, ideally one your team has just completed. Begin brainstorming what your workflow was like for this project and what the end result was.
- What went well: In the first section, start listing actions, outcomes, or changes that went well for your team. These could be changes you made that had a positive impact, things you do regularly that still work, or positive outcomes from the entire process.
- What went wrong: Repeat the process in this section but instead, focus on things that went wrong. Everything here doesn’t have to be a catastrophic failure, but try thinking about things that drained your efficiency, were risk-laden, or didn’t go as planned.
- Actions: Finally, based on the feedback in the last two sections, begin brainstorming actions your team can take to improve your efficiency in the future. How can you avoid the mistakes you made previously? How can you maximize the things that went well? What specific actions will help facilitate your future success?
Retrospective Template Advantages
Using a retrospective template makes analyzing past projects more manageable and creates concrete roads to improvement. Here are some of the reasons using a retrospective template is so advantageous
Without a specific exercise to analyze previous work, your team might never take the time to look back and understand what went wrong. The retrospective template gives your team the platform to explore previous sprints collaboratively. This allows everyone to communicate freely and share their feelings about their shared workflow. Communicating on a board like the retrospective template reveals how people feel about their collaborative environment and will allow your team to move forward with multiple perspectives baked into your strategy.
Not only can you communicate more effectively on a retrospective template, but you can actively change how you operate in the future. This is one of the key advantages of conducting regular retrospectives and is one of the best ways to optimize your workflow going forward.
Learn From Past Mistakes
Another reason retrospectives are helpful is they allow you to curb harmful mistakes and address patterns of inefficiency. Without a formal analysis, you might keep suffering from the same mistakes over and over again. A retrospective allows you to learn from these mistakes and overcome them en route to a more successful workflow.
Fresco’s Retrospective Template Example
We created an example scenario in our retrospective template based on the traditional structure we highlighted above. We outlined a very common use case in using a retrospective template for a simple project review. Here’s how it looks.
What Went Well
- Sending daily updates.
- Weekly standup was efficient.
- Scope change to larger teams.
- Communication was spot on – helped everyone.
What Went Wrong
- Using an external task manager.
- Weekly stakeholder meetings.
- Individual Demos.
- Paid ad campaigns.
- Start tracking tasks internally.
- Double meeting times.
- Stop running ads for now.
- Start client check-ins.
- Deploy changes twice as often.
Analysis: You can see how this template made it incredibly easy to organize the positive and negative feedback from the previous project. This enables your team to create tangible actions based on this feedback to proceed with the good, improve on the bad, and be more efficient going forward.
4 Different Retrospective Templates
Not all retrospectives are the same. We highlighted a traditional format for a retrospective meeting, but there are many different ways your team can improve their efficiency through a retrospective template. Here are four of the most popular versions you can use right now.
A values retrospective is a template that walks through the important values of a scrum team and creates a set of shared expectations for the team moving forward.
This template focuses on multiple key values and expectations a team can set for each other to ensure they achieve success in the future. These can be based on their previous experience to inform what they value most in a team.
If you want to read more details about a values retrospective, you can use this link.
Mad, Sad, Glad Retrospective
The Mad, Sad, Glad retrospective is another popular template that focuses on people’s emotions as they reflect on their previous sprint.
For this template, team members will walk through things that made them mad, sad, and glad during their previous sprint. This allows you to optimize future actions to avoid those issues and navigate how to handle situations better to turn a negative experience into a positive one.
The sailboat retrospective uses the metaphor of a sailboat to analyze a previous project. This template focuses on creating the same actions as a traditional template but does so in a more interactive and stimulating way. Here are the main components of a sailboat retrospective.
- The Boat: The team or the project. Whatever the main vessel is for future success.
- The Island: The north star or main goal for the team. This represents the ideal, successful outcome.
- The Wind: The positive influences on the team that facilitate success. This represents what your team/business does well that positions you to succeed.
- The Anchors: The things that slow the team down or affect your progress.
- The Rocks: The risks or pitfalls associated with your sprint. These could be product-related or team related.
Start, Stop, Continue
The start, stop, continue framework is a popular (and similar) version of the traditional retrospective. It focuses on things your team should start doing, things you should stop doing, and things you should continue to do. This template focuses heavily on what the future looks like to increase the efficiency of your next project.