Democratic Retrospective

When a brand new member began in my workforce, he introduced with him this fascinating format for a retrospective. We have fine-tuned it collectively over a few iterations, and now there may be time to put in writing a weblog publish about it 🙂


This format for retrospective have 5 steps to execute throughout the assembly:

  • Warm up
  • Zoom in
  • Feedback
  • Voting
  • Discuss & Assign.

Below I’ll undergo every and certainly one of them, in some extra element.

Warm up

We at all times begin with a brief heat up train to “get up our brains”. As a facilitator I’ll put out a press release, like the next, to the assembly individuals:

  • “Think one minute for a film character that, for you, symbolize the final two weeks.”
  • “Think one minute of a automobile producer or automobile mannequin that, for you, symbolize the final two weeks.”

After a minute or so I handle every assembly participant individually, and so they have to inform their selection + shortly motive it.

Zoom in

After we’ve gotten our brains going, we begin to “zoom in” on the previous time interval that the retrospective shall cowl. This we do utilizing one thing we name “Pass the pen” (named as a homage to the nice previous “Pass the pennies”-game 🙂 )

Preparation: Draw a timeline, vertically (NOT horizontally!), on a whiteboard with three factors: “Start”, “Middle” and “End” (see the image above). The timeline is drawn vertically to make it simpler for the assembly individuals to put in writing in occasions (from left to proper) throughout this train.

Exercise: All workforce members are requested to face in entrance of the whiteboard, with the timeline drawn onto it. A workforce member ask to  “cross me the pen” and write one factor/occasion that did occur throughout the time interval. When performed, she or he holds up the pen within the air, and one other particular person can ask “cross the pen” and so forth. Let this go on for about 3-5 minutes, or occasions are stopped being added.

This train is used to, as a gaggle, keep in mind what did truly occur throughout the time interval that the retrospective shall cowl. It’s very straightforward to overlook.


This step is the place more often than not shall be spent throughout the retrospective.

Preparation: The facilitator attracts sections on the whiteboard (see the image above) for the next 5 classes:

  • 🙂 – Positive.
  • 😦 – Negative.
  • ? – Questions with out a answer.
  • <flower> – Positive phrases to share with a colleague, inside, or exterior of the workforce.
  • <lightbulb> – Ideas/options.

Exercise: The assembly individuals are requested to spend 10-Quarter-hour on writing post-it:s becoming the 5 classes introduced above.

When everybody is completed, one assembly participant on the time, steps as much as the whiteboard and places up their post-it:s + give a brief verbal description for every certainly one of them.

Note! Different colours on the post-it:s can be utilized to separate out every participant, if wished/wanted.


The retrospective now begins to come back to an finish, solely two steps stay. In this step post-it:s from 😦 , ?, and <lightbulb> are grouped collectively on the whiteboard. The optimistic ones are after all nice, and we will be completely happy of them, however we don’t have to deliver them additional within the retrospective. For the <flowers>, these are collected by the facilitator and handed out to those that acquired them, after the assembly.

For the voting, the well-known agile methodology of “dot voting” is used. Each individuals will get three (or another appropriate quantity) “dots” to make use of how they need on the post-it:s.

To not bias one another (that a lot), all of the individuals collect in entrance of the whiteboard, with one pen every, and place their dots “on the identical time” (after a “Ready, Set, Go”-call).

The (group of) post-it:s at the moment are rearranged a bit once more. Place the one(s) with most votes on the high, adopted by the second most votes and so forth.

Usually it’s fairly straightforward to kind out the highest 3-5 ones. The relaxation is deserted, democracy have spoken and so they have been determined “not essential sufficient to take additional at this level of time” (after all they will, and can, emerge once more in a later retrospective).

Discuss & Assign

Time is quickly up for the assembly, and the very last thing we do is to debate the highest 3-5 actions/duties that we choose to take ahead. This is completed by discussing them to seek out concrete actions, and likewise to assign them to individuals (that can personal them).


What do you consider this format for a retrospective? To me it’s a pleasant combination of “writing suggestions on post-it:s” and Lean Coffee (democratically resolve what’s most essential, on this case, to deliver additional). This retrospective can (and shall) be mixed with an exercise to observe up on actions from earlier retrospectives. Best of luck along with your subsequent retrospective!

All the perfect,
 Tomas from TheAgileist

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