How to Create a Retrospective for First-Timers

I’ve been around the agile world and retrospectives for some time now, but I never had the opportunity to introduce someone to the concepts that we all know and take for granted to someone.

Until now.

It felt like an exciting challenge. An important step on my agile journey. I had the opportunity, nay, the honor to introduce a group to retrospectives. In my opinion the most import of the twelve principles.

“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” — agile manifesto

I’m going to be honest, I felt a bit of pressure. I want to cause a good first impression on the group, show that there is something to agile, not just a fad. How can I make a retrospective fun, and useful for a group that never had one?

Heck I don’t know, but I sure going to try 😄

Like everyone in the world today, the first thing is to open up Google and type “retrospective”. With around 87 Million pages 🤯 there is no lack of inspiration. After opening several tabs and squeezing the juice, I’ve decided on a couple of ideas.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel, but there are still ways we can improve it ⚡

I’ve found a website called “Fun Retrospectives”. This website was a great source of inspiration. From retrospectives to futurespectives, team building exercises, lots of material.

This retrospective was going to be for a Hackathon we did at the beginning of the month, here in Digital Labs.

I wanted to do something different from the usual format “What went good”, “What we can improve”, something more fun. After reading some of the retros they had there, I’ve chosen one called the 3L’s.

The 3L retrospective — Liked, Learned and Lacked

Another source that never fails is Spotify Labs.

Reading again their Retro kit I got some nice ideas to spice things up.

I’ve decided to use a Weather Report to ask how the group felt about the Hackathon. This is a quick way to dot vote on a subject and provides quick insight into how it was perceived by the group.

Weather Report

I don’t remember how I came across the Liberating Structures in the past, but since the first time I’ve seen them, I got inspired. For this retro, I’ve used an adaptation of the 1–2–4-ALL — to “Engage Everyone Simultaneously in Generating Questions, Ideas, and Suggestions”.

Find your pair …

To make it a bit more fun, I’ve used an energizer to “Find your pair”, that I’ve found in the fun retrospective website. I wrote post-its with animal names on the seat of each person on the group.

Looked like a fun way for changing from individual retrospective to pair, and then to a group talk.

So how did it go????

IMO it went really good, I will give it a 👍, but I'm biased. The group, on the other hand, voted like this …

Feedback after the retrospective

The standard type of retrospective is good, don’t get me wrong. When we are trying to find the Kaizen to help us on the next iteration, focusing on “what went good 👍” and “what we need to improve 👎” is a good strategy.

But, once in a while, it’s important to spice things up, and move away from pre-defined models.

This resources will help you gain some inspiration.

Hope you like this article, if you do spam the 👏 button like there is no tomorrow 😃

10x👏 — the article was good.

20x👏 — awesome article.

50x👏 for the highest of fives.

You can find me on LinkedIn and Medium.

Have an awesome and amazing day …


How to Create a Retrospective for First-Timers was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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