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What Went Well Retrospective

The What Went Well retrospective has been a standby for so many teams in the agile community. This retrospective technique helps the team examine their process from the previous sprint, as well as brainstorm potential improvements to boost efficiency and productivity. What Went Well is a great chance for your scrum team to create a list of action items that foster continuous improvement before your upcoming sprint. 

Just ask your agile team two simple questions - what went well and what didn't go well?

Use the What Went Well retrospective template when you want to...

Focus the team on creating a list of concrete steps it can take to improve.

Take a logical view of what's working and what's not.

Preparing for the exercise

This retrospective template is centered around the team's responses to two primary questions - what went well and what didn't go well? Before the retrospective begins, the facilitator should select the What Went Well template from Retrium's retrospective exercise toolbox.

Setting the Stage

To start the retrospective, the facilitator should explain how the technique works. They should then set a timebox for the retrospective meeting (a 30-60 minute time period, depending on the size of the team). Make sure the entire team is aware of the procedures and everyone feels comfortable moving forward.


The next step should take between 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your team. In this step, participants write down their honest feedback and record them on sticky notes in the team room (one idea per note!). During this step, team members should keep their valuable ideas private; this prevents members of the team from being swayed by others' opinions. After the timebox ends, each piece of feedback is displayed in the appropriate column. 

Grouping Topics

This next step helps the team focus the discussion on the big ideas on everyone's mind. It's common for team members to create notes that are similar in theme. So, to save time and make sure major topics are discussed, participants use the time during this phase of the retrospective to group sticky notes into logical themes. Announce the timebox (5-10 minutes) and allow participants to collaboratively group the meeting notes on the board.

Using Dot Voting

Sometimes discussion topics are obvious...and sometimes they aren't. If there are several similar notes on a lack of follow-through, for example, your team has an obvious pain point to discuss. However, sometimes it can be challenging to organize the discussion around a handful of ideas. If this is the case, the facilitator can opt to use dot voting to ensure every member of the team has a say in the flow of discussion. Each member of the team is given a certain number of votes, and the conversation is organized based on the collective input of the group.

Facilitating the retrospective discussion

Announce the timebox for this phase (20-40 minutes should be enough). If dot voting was used, then the team should discuss the notes in prioritized order. If dot voting was not used, the facilitator can choose the order of discussion. The facilitator can optionally choose to timebox the discussion of each individual group as well (to 5 or 10 minutes). The advantage of this approach is that it tends to keep the conversation on topic and moving at a faster pace.


As each topic is discussed, it's important for the team to celebrate what went well, while also focusing on transforming ideas into solutions. As the team brainstorms workable solutions, have the facilitator document each action item in the team's action plan. Just remember, it's not just about correcting the wrong, it's also about how to create positive experiences that help your team in future sprints. 

Whether you're an agile retrospective pro or a newcomer to the retro world, this retro template helps your agile team take measurable steps towards improvement. In true agile nature, have the team regroup in a week or two to consider new opportunities for improvement, see how the new processes are going, and run another agile sprint retrospective. 😉

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