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Agile Practices 101

10 Retrospective techniques to try with your agile team

Whether you are an experienced scrum team or brand new to agile retrospectives, switching up your techniques is a great way to ensure your team never has to sit through another boring retrospective. However, with so many retrospective techniques out there to try, picking the one that best fits the unique needs of your team can be hard. 

To help you through this decision, here is a list of our favorite retrospective techniques to try and when they may work best for your team! 

  1. Sailboat 

If you ever want to sail away to a tropical island where you have achieved all your retrospective goals, sailboat is the retrospective template for you! A sailboat retrospective will help any team struggling with staying aligned from sprint to sprint. A ship sailing to the island paradise sets the stage for valuable open discussions at the beginning or middle of a project. Sailboat discussions improve team alignment and provide valuable feedback on project goals, issues, and assets. Get everyone on board! 

  1. Mad, Sad, Glad 

When your team is feeling burnt out or emotionally drained, or even if something is just a little off with morale, a Mad, Sad, Glad retrospective can give you the insights you need. Particularly effective in the middle of larger projects this retrospective template gives managers insights into what team members need to remain happy in their workplace. A simple column-based retrospective, this agile technique will have teams focusing less on specific goals and on the emotions of the team. 

  1. Start, Stop, Continue 

Start, Stop, Continue is one of the most popular retrospective techniques, and for good reason. Whether you are using the traditional Scrum sprint model or just starting to implement retrospective Start Stop Continue is a great way to examine the systems and habits of the team, as well as reprioritize team goals. This template allows participants to focus on highlighting team strengths and overcoming team obstacles. By simply examining what participants wish to start, stop, or continue, team members can create a specific action plan to improve their workload and work culture. Start it today! 

  1. Starfish

If you want to go a step further than the Stop, Start, Continue retrospective, then jump into the water and run a Starfish retrospective. This agile technique dives deeper into team habits by examining what to start doing, stop doing, keep doing, do more of, and do less of. Use this technique when your team is in need of a systems overhaul or needs more innovative ideas of workflow. Starfish works best for long-standing teams or projects in the process where teams are a bit more familiar with each other. This retrospective activity should be a go-to for teams looking for specific improvement actions they can put in place quickly in multiple areas. 

  1. Lean Coffee

Don’t have a specific goal or topic for the day’s retrospective? You need Lean Coffee, another agile favorite, is a basic template to use when you don’t know what to do, but still want an effective retrospective. The Lean Coffee agile retrospective has teams examining the status of the team’s assignments and looking into where issues are developing and what hold-ups are preventing the team’s momentum forward. By discussing common topics of concern the team can create relevant action items for improvement on a range of topics. You never know information can spill out in a Lean Coffee retrospective session.

  1. Wishes, Risks, Appreciations, and Puzzles 

For teams that have been working together for a while, they know what they want. They also know all the reasons they will get told no. So they hold back. A Wishes, Risks, Appreciations, and Puzzles (WRAP) retrospective is great retro activity to help break through the hesitations and red tape to learn what your entire team really wants to do next and incorporate appreciation from the team members. This technique also works great at the start of projects when you need to define the scope without getting overwhelmed in details.  Let the innovative retrospective ideas fly in this fun retrospective as you give participants a chance to imagine what work could look like in an ideal world. 

  1. Liked, Learned, Lacked, and Longed For (4Ls)

If you are part of a team that thinks the only failure is not learning, then this is the technique for you. Liked, Learned, Lacked, and Longed For (4LS for short) is the perfect retro technique for teams at the end of a project or between projects. This technique has the team explore what happened in a current sprint or project but also what they hope will happen in future sprints. For organizations that want to remain agile and consistently evaluate processes and find a long-term solution to a systemic issue, 4Ls is an easy way to collaborate and strive for continuous improvement. 

  1. Safety Check 

Your team is about to go into a retrospective after a tough previous sprint or a disappointing project? Does everyone feel comfortable speaking their truth? The answer may be a bit complicated. Especially great when conducting cross-functional retrospectives or meetings where titles and hierarchies can affect people’s willingness to speak up. Running a Safety Check before your discussion can help your team recognize where points of discomfort may occur in the retrospective conversation ahead, and prepare ways to create a safe space, and promote honest feedback from the entire team for the entire conversation. Which is something we vote for 24/7!

  1. Team Happiness Radar

Organizations around the world are beginning to recognize the importance of mental health and happiness on overall team productivity and lasting success. Running regular Team Happiness Radars can help you recognize the team’s morale and recognize points of improvement. When done in combination with a column technique, this retrospective can help your team create lasting culture changes. 

  1. Goal Alignment Radar

Everyone knowing the goal and everyone agreeing that this is the right goal can be two different emotions. If some team members do not agree with or understand the purpose of what the team is working towards, everything suffers. If you are not 100% sure about goal buy-in, then a goal alignment radar is an excellent way to make sure your agile team understands and agrees on the goals of the project moving forward. This activity was made especially for teams just starting new goals or looking to adjust existing goals to help teams collaborate effectively and move forward successfully. And moving forward successfully is everyone’s end goal. Right? 


Avoid The Blame Game with the Agile Prime Directive 

Celebrated By Agile Retrospective experts, Diana Larsen and Esther Derby. Starting each retrospective meeting by stating the Prime Directive by Norm Kerth is a great way for teams to avoid meetings devolving into blaming sessions and instead create a more appreciative retrospective experience where teams feel comfortable providing action-oriented feedback. 


Ready to give these retrospective techniques a go? Practice using these retrospective techniques for 30-Days with our free trial to find which one is your favorite! 

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