With this post I continue the series of examples for retrospectives. It describes a solution focussed version that I recently used as a format for a project retrospective (a project that lasted 3 months and 2 teams were working together).
Focus of the retrospective was on the collaboration of both teams during the project.

A brief overview on the agenda
Total Time
Set the stage
Satisfaction (see Crisp’s DNA Happiness Index) with the teams collaboration
Based on the question: How satisfied are you with the collaboration of both teams during the project?
Get a fast overview about satisfaction based on gut feeling.
Great input to ask further questions during the next retrospective phases.
Headline and smilies on the wall
Works fast and provides an important overview about the satisfaction.
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Gather data
Team collaboration timeline
Working in pairs – a pair is build by one member from every team, to already mix the input
and foster cross team collaboration. The task was to remember six significant situations from the project (can be
connected to team collaboration but also loosely coupled).
Maximum 6 items per pair.
Each item had to be mapped to the timeline (roughly).
In addition every item had to be connected with a mood indicator (was it a positive event (+++), a
neutral one (ooo) or something to improve (—))
After the collection phase, the pairs had to add their items to the timeline and mood matrix on the wall and
explain it shortly to the whole group.
It generates an overview and recaps the project.
As the group was about 16 participants, working in pairs and limiting the output to six items was a
way to gather the important points and avoid loosing momentum.
Mapping it to a point in time during the project opens the perspective and maybe connects it with other moments.
Indicating the mood can spot different impressions by pairs and provides an input for possible improvements.
Arrange a horizontal timeline and mark e.g. the months for orientation.
Add vertical mood indicators. I used +++, ooo, —. You could e.g. use smilies instead.
Working in pairs adds activity (one can observe the noise and engagement level).
To limit the number of items is important to keep the flow during gather data.
6′ to collect 6 facts
ca. 10′ to collect the pairs input
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Generate insights
What went well?
Build groups of max. five people, again mixing teams.
Every group collects points that went really well regarding the teams’ collaboration
in the project.
For every point found, explain what were contributions that made this point a really
positive one.
Explain your outcome to the whole group.
We arranged a space on the wall where every group pinned their results and explained it.
This way everyone can read through it and the results are accessible and highly visible during the next phases.
Again groups with participants from both teams help to gather different perspectives and
have some clarifications and discussions up front. In addition it fosters working together and get to
know each other even better.
The 2nd question aims for thinking more about the positive sides of this point.
While investigating, the point gets even more prominent and maybe becomes a sticky one.
A flip chart that explains the exercise and displays the two questions.
A flip chart for every group to write down their outcomes.
Think through the exercise and clarify upfront how the room can be arrangend to support
the groups work:

  • Where will you place the flip charts?
  • How can you avoid interruptions?
  • Can everyone read the questions for this exercise?
  • Where will you display the groups results, so that everyone can follow the presentations and that it is
    accessible during the next steps in your retrospective.
Group work fosters driver for results. Everyone seemed highly engaged while discussing the
positive areas of their team work.
The 2nd question helped to get some deeper insights about the frame of a positive
7′ to collect points and answer the 2nd questions
ca. 10′ to present the outcome to the whole group
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Generate insights (2)
And what would you like to have happen in your collaboration?
Based on the questions used in The Five Minute Coach: Improve Performance Rapidly
, this entry questions should help the groups to focus on their future collaboration. Asking: “What would you like to have happen?”, places the perspective to the outcome.
Again work in groups of max. 5 members, mixed.
In addition to the main question the group had to answer 3 supporting questions:
And when this change happens, then what happens?
And who can execute that change?
And when can you determine whether that change happened?
Working in groups … argumentation see above
Using the forward looking questions helps to focus on an outcome and not to dig deeper and deeper in problems.
Especially when working with teams, problem solving techniques are not longer the way to go. Using solution focused approaches is the
better alternative.
Using the 3 supporting questions describes the outcome and adds the responsibility and time aspects too.
A flip chart that explains the exercise and displays the 4 questions.
A flip chart plus enough paper for every group to write down their outcomes.
Like above please consider a proper room preparation
At least the german translation of the question was not that easy to grasp.
All groups described at least 1 outcome
13′ to collect points and answer the four questions
ca. 5′ to present the outcome to the whole group
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Decide what to do
Dot Voting to select the change to implement first followed by detailing that change?
Consolidate the proposals from every group. I wrote headlines for every proposal on a flip chart.
And combined common proposals with some notes, when we had to merge ideas.
Ask: And what change will you implement first?
Select the candidate to implement via dot voting (everyone items/2 dots and all distribute their dots on
their candidate)
Detail that change by describing necessary actions (what, who, until when).
We had 5 suggestions for changes. It works best to start with one and not to get paralyzed by a choice.
Dot voting to indicate the most promising change candidate uses our great first indicator – gut feeling – that is
supported by the answers on the 4 questions.
If that change will not work, you can anyway implement the next one.
A flip chart to collect all headlines for change proposals and a flip chart to detail the change.
A pen for everyone to make their dots (if possible at the same time to avoid heavy tactical voting).
Extracting headlines is best done through the group. They have to name their headline.
For merged items their should be further comments what got merged.
7′ for headlines and merging
10′ for details and concrete action items
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Based on the question: “For the next project retrospective we should…?” everyone adds their points for things to keep, drop, what else?
Explain the questions and let everyone write down their items on sticky notes.
Place the keep,drop, what else points near the door so that everyone can provide their points when they leave
the room
Again forward focussed, people add/remove elements that will improve further retrospectives.
Having it silently and anonymous helps to figure out critical points too.
The questions and headlines for Keep, Drop, What else…? should be visible on the wall.
Sticky notes and pens for everyone.
Great points and high engagement.
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Based on Stefan Nowaczynski’s experience using solution oriented reflection instead of feedback (DE) I had the opportunity to reflect on the retrospective format using the following four guiding questions:

  • With what are you satisfied the most?
  • What was you most useful contribution?
  • Based on that learning experience, what will you continue to do?
  • Retrospective, what would you do in another way?
Great questions that really helped me to reconsider the 90′.
Please have a look on the examples for retrospectives collection for further input. If you like the description or would like to propose changes, please do not hesitate to leave your highly welcome comment.