Sailboat Retrospectives

Sailboat Retrospectives

Sailboat Retrospective is one of the most visual and fun agile retrospectives. And that’s what makes it very popular. Though it comes with one caveat. You need to be an experienced sailor to participate in it. Lol I’m just kidding 🤣 . You don’t need to be a sailor or skier or anything else to participate in a sailboat retrospective. All you need is the willingness to share, learn and grow with your team. And who wouldn’t want that.

Sailboat is a metaphor for your team. And all the passengers in the sailboat are the members of the team. Imagine your team is participating in a treasure hunt and needs to reach an island in the final challenge. It is bound to meet the following along the way:

🏝️ Island

The island is the destination where you want your team and product to go. Is everyone on the “same boat” when it comes to the final destination ( see what I did there 🤣 🤣 ). One of the unique things about the sailboat agile retrospective is that it asks people to spell out what they think the goal of the sprint was. You’d be surprised how many different goals you will see. Examples of goals are:

1.Complete tickets assigned to me
2.Release the update on time
3.Make sure the quality of the product is at par before releasing the product
4.Learn new technology being introduced in the sprint
5.Increase revenue by x% with this release

As you can see everyone might have something different in mind when you talk to them about the goal for the sprint!

⚓ Anchors

Anchors slow down the speed of the sailboat. These are things that will slow your team down during the sprint. It could be something that occurred once or kept happening again and again. Sharing them in the retrospective enables you to help prevent them from happening in the future. Some examples of Anchors that we have seen in agile retrospective sprint are:

1.We kept going back and forth on the acceptance criteria and what it really meant.
2.Too much firefighting was done in this sprint. As a result we were resource constrained throughout and struggling till the very end
3.Lot of tickets were blocked because of dependencies. Need to plan better

⛵ Winds

Winds helps increase the speed of the sailboat and help it reach the island faster. What were the things in your agile sprint that made the team go faster? Let’s look at some of the examples:

1.We were able to reuse UI components that shortened the time to develop them
2.Prior investigation led to more accurate estimates this time around. We should do “research spike” on larger tickets more often.

☠️ Icebergs/Pirates

Have you seen Titanic and Pirates of the Caribbean? If yes, then I don’t need to explain what icebergs and pirates do to If not then let me explain. They destroy ships and cause irreparable damage. As a result you never reach the island ☹️ . Goodbye vacation👋. Let’s look at some examples of icebergs that you will come across in your agile sprint retrospective:

1.Our technical debt is mounting and the cracks can be seen in the number of support calls we got after the sprint.
2.We are running into scalability issues and performance of the product has begun to suffer
3.Too many good people are leaving. Is the management planning on doing anything for the high employee turnover.

☀️ Sunshine

It’s good to bask in the glory of your laurels. Lie on the deck and get a nice tan 🤣 🤣 . Sunshine is everything you felt good about in your sprint retrospective meetings. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate all the hard work that the team has been doing to meet its goals. Some examples of Sunshine agile retrospective are:

1.Thanks Dave for helping me test the feature out
2.Love the new options in the vending machine. Keep ‘em coming
3.Our app crash rates are at the lowest ever. Great work everyone

These make up the different elements of the agile sprint Sailboat retrospective .

How to run a Sailboat retrospective

Now that we know what the different elements of the sailboat sprint retrospective are let’s briefly look at how to run it:

1.Explain what the sailboat retrospective is to the group if it’s the first time they are participating in it
2.Give everyone 5-10 minutes to write down their feedback about each element on sticky notes
3.Ask the participants to put their sticky notes next to each element
4.Group similar notes together and see if certain themes emerge
5.Vote on the themes to prioritize ones you’ll focus on
6.Come up with action items for prioritized themes

Do you know what makes sailboat agile retrospectives even more fun? Ya you guessed it right ! Icebreakers !!!

These are questions that you ask the group at the start of the agile sprint retrospective meeting. It helps everyone get comfortable with speaking in the group, share a few laughs and get to know each other a bit better. Here are some examples:

1.What’s your best purchase this past year?
2.Would you rather talk like Yoda or breathe like Darth Vader
3.What’s something on your desk, a nearby wall, or out the window that cheers you up during the day?
4.What is the weirdest thing in your Netflix queue right now?

We have compiled a list of over 300 icebreakers questions for you to pick from. Enjoy 🚀

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