Retrospectives 102 The Sailboat Method

Retrospectives are my favorite aspect of this grum process, this one to two hour meeting is where a team does the most learning in their process and it sets them up for success in the next spring. In this lesson, we’re going to break down one of my go to methods, the sailboat retro, the sailboat retrospective. It’s practiced by many scrum masters, agile coaches and product teams alike. And after you try it with your team, you’ll see why retrospectives are all about discussing what went well, what didn’t go well and what we’re going to do next. The sailboat retro gives our teams context and a starting point for discussion.

Here’s how it’s set up on a whiteboard flip chart or using your favorite remote tool. You’ll start with a sailboat. This represents your team. Off in the distance is an island representing your team’s goal from the sprint they just completed. If your team defines a sprint goal during planning at the beginning of your sprint, use that here the boat is slowed down by an anchor which represents obstacles that got in the team’s way. That sprint. These can be things like poor communication, too little focus time or anything that slowed the team down throughout the sprint. Then you have the sun or the wind, which helps propel the boat forward and the team closer to their goal. Collaboration, good refinement sessions and a decent grasp of research could be examples of things that make the team happy. And then you have rocks or an iceberg in the distance. These represent obstacles that haven’t directly affected the team quite yet, but could have an impact in the near future. This could represent a potential third party software, knowledge, handoffs or any red flags that could be foreseen as issues down the road. Once you have your drawing ready, each team member will write out posts corresponding to the categories.

Once all of your posts are placed on the board, go through each category, have a team discussion and make note of any patterns. I like to assign a team member to each category so everyone gets a chance to speak and lead the conversation without putting too much emphasis on who wrote which individual posted make note of action items off to the side as you go through the categories and assign a person to take ownership of an action item during the next sprint to make sure the team addresses it. This method is great for breaking it. Monotonous retrospectives. The image can easily be changed to keep the meetings interesting, and I like to use this as an opportunity to get all team members involved. Since we’re doing a retrospective at the end of each sprint, there are plenty of opportunities for team members to come up with a new and creative image like cats, dogs, or even taking inspiration from your favorite TV show.

The best way to make retrospectives beneficial for your team is to make them interactive and comfortable for everyone involved, try out the sailboat method in your next retro.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *