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3 Ways To Spice Up A Sprint Retrospective Meeting

kokou adzo



Sprint Retrospective Meeting

Some people feel the sprint retrospective meeting has lost its spice. We say, ‘You need to up your game.’ There are plenty of ways to inject flavor into any meeting format. Today, we’ll show you how to make the humble sprint retrospective that little bit more engaging.

Ready for some spiced-up retrospective techniques? Here we go.

1. The Sailboat

The Sailboat retrospective is one of the simpler agile techniques. All you need is a flip-chart (or whiteboard) on which you’ll draw a sailboat, some clouds, a few rocks, an island or two, and an anchor on the seabed.

The image is a metaphor for your project. The islands are your goal(s), the clouds and wind are your driving force, while the anchor stands for everything that’s holding you back. After you’ve stated your goal(s), you’ll get the team to brainstorm ideas for the other sections, write them on sticky notes, and stick the notes on the relevant part of the image.

From here, you can group the notes. Then, check the team is happy with the grouping, encouraging everyone to speak up about anything that could change. Once you have finalized the groups, ask your team to decide which items need the most focus or improvement, then define the next steps before bringing an end to the retro.

Why use the sailboat technique?

The technique is simple yet effective. It highlights what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s holding you back. Plus, you can use it with more than one team in the same sprint retrospective meeting. And the fact you write notes down makes it easy to run the session online.

2. The High-Performance Tree

Scrum gets you to focus on the values that characterize a strong team. And scrum masters use the high-performance tree to push their teams to use scrum in the most effective way possible.

The high-performance tree comprises five roots that reflect the foundational values of scrum (commitment, openness, respect, courage, focus). From here, you get the tree to grow by asking your team to share the traits they believe make an even higher-performing team. And these traits become the leaves on the tree.

In a recent tree-based retro, one team came up with the traits: self-managed, problem-solving, trust, and empowerment, which became the leaves. And what grows near leaves? You guessed it, fruit — with the fruit depicting the personal characteristics the team wants to build, both as a group and individually.

Why use the high-performance tree?

The tree is slightly more abstract. And it gets people to think a little deeper about how they want to work. By considering the ‘leaves and fruits,’ a team can start to formulate a culture they’re proud to be part of, motivating themselves to work harder in pursuit of personifying their very own high-performance tree.

3.  The Starfish

From boats to trees to beneath the sea: the starfish technique is an extended version of the three-question format of a typical sprint retrospective meeting. But it uses five facets to give you a broader view of what’s working and what’s not.

You can draw your ‘starfish’ wherever you choose (flip-board, whiteboard, online) — just be sure to sketch a circle diagram with the following five segments (in the same order):

  • Stop: anything that brings no value to the team (or impediments to resolve).
  • Less: new or old techniques that no longer bring the benefits they once did.
  • Keep: new or old techniques that work well and should keep happening just as before.
  • More: new or old techniques that work well and should happen more frequently.
  • Start: new activities the team wants to introduce as they try to perform better.

Using the five segments keeps the team focused while starting with ‘STOP’ lets everyone get negative ideas off their chest. The subjects then get progressively more positive, motivating people to contribute before finishing on the highest note of all: new ideas to start!

Why use the starfish?

It’s another simple and effective technique that surfaces the negatives while also pushing the positives. The starfish works in most situations, but it often works best when a team has seen a series of ups and downs and needs time to regroup.


GoRetro is a modern agile retrospective tool that helps agile teams create unlimited boards, share with their team members, and gain some insight into what worked, what hasn’t, what can be improved, as well as assign specific action items to individuals with due dates to make sure you work efficiently and keep making your internal development better and better.

Why use GoRetro?

GoRetro is continuing to improve his retro tool by adding more features and integrations based on your requests and interests while keeping everything free and accessible.


Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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