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Today, let’s talk about choosing a format to conduct your remote retro, including the specific questions you’ll be asking your team to respond to.

If this is your first retro with a team, our strong suggestion is to start with a classic “What went well?” “What didn’t go well?” framework. This is the most popular template on EasyRetro and one of the top choices on Parabol for a reason: Those are the questions retros are grounded in.

Example from Parabol:

In their book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, Jeff and J.J. Sutherland, the godfathers of the Scrum framework, had this to say about retrospectives:

“[The team] sit down and think about what went right, what could have gone better, and what can be made better for the next Sprint. What is the improvement in the process that they, as a team, can implement right away?

To be effective, this meeting requires a certain amount of emotional maturity and an atmosphere of trust. The key thing to remember is that you’re not seeking someone to blame; you’re looking at the process. Why did that happen that way? Why did we miss that? What could make us faster? It is crucial that people as a team take responsibility for their process and outcomes, and seek solutions as a team. At the same time, people have the fortitude to bring up the issues that are really bothering them in a way that is solution oriented rather than accusatory. And the rest of the team has to have the maturity to hear the feedback, take it in, and look for a solution rather than getting defensive.”

It’s important for the team to have items in the “What didn’t go well” column to discuss so they can find improvements. It’s the most straightforward way to get responses that may seem subjective (maybe something looked like it went well for one member of the team, while another thought it went badly), but those contradictions help us surface areas to discuss and improve communication, preparation, and collaboration.

Some other options that might be useful for your team:

  • 4 Ls (What did we like, learn, lack, and long For?)
  • Sailboat (What were our anchors slowing us down, winds moving us forward, etc.?)

Foster psychological safety during retrospectives with these four tips

Take a manageable step toward bringing retrospectives to your team:

  • Within Parabol or EasyRetro, set up your board with the framework of your choice.
  • Tip: Explore the other frameworks and boards if you’d like to see additional options that may work better for your particular team or organization.

Next week, we’ll prepare you for facilitating your first retro.