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What, So What, Now What

Profile picture of Céline Ozouf on the Neatroverse community
Image of the column What? from the retrospective template What, So What, Now What on the Neatroverse community
What?
What happened? What did you observe? What challenges and exciting events did you face?
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Image of the column So What? from the retrospective template What, So What, Now What on the Neatroverse community
So What?
What are the consequences? How did this have an impact on us? What did we learn?
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Image of the column Now What? from the retrospective template What, So What, Now What on the Neatroverse community
Now What?
Based on what we learnt, what do we need to do to move forward?
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This activity guides teams through three key questions: What, So What, and Now What?

What is the What, So What, Now What retrospective template?

The What, So What, Now What template is a structured framework for team retrospectives.

This approach encourages teams to reflect on recent experiences, analyze their impact, and identify actionable steps for improvement.

The What, So What, Now What activity can be adapted for various occasions, such as team check-ins during regular intervals (including Sprint Retrospectives, of course), after noteworthy events, or team transitions, providing a versatile framework for ongoing reflection and improvement.

When should you use the What, So What, Now What retrospective model?

The What, So What, Now What retrospective activity is well-suited for various occasions, including the end of projects or iterations, where it enables comprehensive reviews and insights.

Utilize it after major milestones to celebrate successes, learn from challenges, and plan the team's next steps.

Regular team check-ins, conducted periodically, can also provide opportunities for ongoing reflection and continuous improvement. This template can be a nice way to vary the questions you raise during your Sprint Retrospectives, for instance.

During team transitions or changes, this retrospective activity aids teams in adapting to new circumstances.

Finally, in situations of conflict resolution, the activity serves as a constructive means to address and learn from conflicts within the team.

How to conduct the What, So What, Now What retrospective

Let’s dig into the three core questions of this activity.

“What?”

What happened? What did you observe? What challenges and exciting events did you face?

Example: Rolled out new features and faced challenges in integrating code changes.

The purpose of “What?” is to invite people to detail the experience or events that just occurred.

Encourage team members to provide specific examples or anecdotes related to the challenges and exciting events they faced during the development process.

Also, ask participants to reflect not only on what happened but also on why certain events occurred. This can deepen the understanding of the circumstances.

Feel free to ask any other questions that can help team members dig into the experience. Here’s a sample of questions you may want to use:

  • What role did you play in what happened?
  • What did you witness?
  • What were your expectations?
  • What was predicted?
  • What was unpredicted?

“So What?”

What are the consequences? How did this have an impact on us? What did we learn?

Example: Temporary impact on system stability from integration issues.

The purpose of “So What?” is to think about the consequences of the experience. People can come up with hard data (facts) and soft data (feelings).

Additional questions that could be helpful:

  • How did you feel with regards to the experience?
  • What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
  • What did you learn about others from this experience?
  • What conclusions can you draw from what happened?

“Now What?”

Based on what we learnt, what do we need to do to move forward?

Example: Address integration matters, perform a comprehensive code review, and prioritize testing for upcoming features.

The purpose of “Now What?” is to elaborate on what’s next. What are the things we want to tackle now that the experience is over?

Once again, here are more questions to help you guide the conversation:

  • How will you use what you've learned from this experience?
  • What additional knowledge or skills would you like to gain from this experience?
  • In what ways will this experience impact your team dynamics?
  • How will you tackle similar challenges in the future?
  • Would you say this experience will influence your future career? How?
Profile picture of Céline Ozouf on the Neatroverse community
Céline Ozouf
Master of my own 
Attirée par la psychologie sociale et humaniste, je m’intéresse au rapport que nous entretenons les uns avec les autres, ainsi qu’au monde qui nous entoure. Je suis particulièrement sensible à l’effet que peut avoir la présence attentive sur notre bien-être individuel, mais également la qualité de nos relations.
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The 3 elements of What, So What, Now What

Image of the column What? from the retrospective template What, So What, Now What on the Neatroverse community
What?
What happened? What did you observe? What challenges and exciting events did you face?
Image of the column So What? from the retrospective template What, So What, Now What on the Neatroverse community
So What?
What are the consequences? How did this have an impact on us? What did we learn?
Image of the column Now What? from the retrospective template What, So What, Now What on the Neatroverse community
Now What?
Based on what we learnt, what do we need to do to move forward?
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