What are our 5 favourite retrospective formats?

We consider retrospectives a fundamental practice for enhancing our performance. Effective retrospectives revolve around fostering psychological safety and yielding actionable outcomes.

The question of whether to conduct a retrospective arises, and in our experience, the answer is almost always "yes" as soon as you pose the question. There is never an inopportune moment for a retrospective; its value extends beyond agile or lean settings. Retrospectives prove beneficial in any environment where a team collaborates on a shared objective. While commonly associated with the conclusion of a project or sprint, retrospectives can also be valuable in between or even before project initiation.

Our 5 preferred retrospective formats:

We favour perennial formats like Start/Stop/Continue, Mad/Sad/Glad, and speedboat. However, we encourage exploration of the following less conventional formats:


Centred around creative destruction, TRIZ offers an engaging approach, initiating with the question "What should we start doing to be unsuccessful?"

Read more on liberatingstructures.com

Three Little Pigs

Utilising the three types of houses built by the three little pigs as metaphors, this format proves effective for reflective discussions.

Read more on parabol.co


Founded on Murphy’s Law—whatever can go wrong, will go wrong—this format serves as a post-mortem conducted before project commencement, compelling teams to think in reverse.

Read more on mountaingoatsoftware.com

Lean Coffee

While not a conventional retrospective, Lean Coffee is highly effective. It involves brainwriting topics, dot voting, and engaging in timeboxed discussions.

Read more on agile42.com


Plot events and their corresponding emotions on a timeline. This is excellent for revealing similar or divergent perceptions within a team.

Read more on evetro.com

Bonus: 4 Superpowers for Valuable Retrospectives

Brainwriting: Silent brainwriting fosters psychological safety by ensuring equal speaking time. Read more on smashingmagazine.com.

Silent Dotvoting: Avoid the bandwagon effect and engage in dot voting in silence. Read more on lucidspark.com.

Consent Decision Making: Don't aim for consensus; instead, seek consent, following the adage "good enough for now, safe enough to try”. Read more on sociocracyforall.org.

15% Improvements: Steer clear of vague solutions for monumental problems. Concentrate on small, tangible, short-term actions as outcomes for a retrospective. Read more on liberatingstructures.com.