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5 unique retrospective ideas your team will love

5 unique retrospective ideas your team will love

Finding ways to spice up your retrospective meetings isn’t always easy. A simple exercise like “The 4Ls model (Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed for)” can be effective, but over time it loses its luster and can make each meeting feel like a broken record. Our latest icebreaker questions will definitely help spruce things up, but we decided to take it a step further.

Neatro’s innovation lab is charged with creating new and never-before-seen retrospective exercises to ensure that your next retrospective meeting (and the one after that) is engaging, productive, and memorable.

Let’s dig into our 5 most recent retrospective template ideas and how to run each one.

1. The Rock Band retrospective template – let loose & have fun!

Rock Band Retrospective Idea

This fun retrospective activity is a perfect fit for agile teams working in sprints that hold recurring retros. It’s also great for conducting events or project post-mortems.

What’s it all about?

Just like after any performance, the team needs to debrief! Give your team a band name (or even better, decide on one together) and dedicate roles to each member of the group. This exercise alone is sure to get people out of their shells, escaping the monotony of previous retros with a fun twist. Have fun!

How to conduct the retrospective (4 steps):

1. The Scene: describe how the band performed in the last “show” (your sprint). Be objective here. Were goals reached, did everything go live on time, is the Sprint successfully done?

2. Backstage: What did you notice about what went on behind the scenes? For a band that might be equipment set up, and for your team, it might be team processes such as QA. Everything leading up to the “big event” matters in making it successful, and there is always room to optimize.

3. The Road Crew: Get human! Highlight who helped the group and be specific in how they made an impact. This will boost team morale and engagement.

4. The Setlist: Looking back on the performance overall, discuss how you can improve for the next Sprint. This is where your action items come in! Be sure to note them and assign owners for each item to ensure there’s accountability.

  • Did you know...you can use a pre-made Rock Band retrospective template directly in Neatro? It’s free, no credit card required, and participants do not need to create an account to join. As you can see, we like to keep things simple.

👉 Learn more about the Rock Band retrospective activity here!

2. The Zombie Apocalypse – get serious about challenges and learnings.

The Zombie Apocalypse Retrospective Idea

This Sprint retrospective activity is a bit more complex but brings a high dose of creativity and energy to the table. Used as a Sprint retrospective activity, this exercise will help your team come to a general diagnosis of your last work cycle.

What’s it all about?

The end of the world is nye, and the only way to survive is to fight off those pesky Zombies as a united group. The team will need to discuss challenges encountered, the tools and processes that helped along the way, why some things did not happen as originally planned and of course, lessons learned for next time.

How to conduct the retrospective (5 steps):

1. The Bestiary: Now is the moment to identify the enemies and challenges the team faced in the last Sprint. It’s important to be honest here! Problems cannot be improved if they are not first named.

2. Stop by the Gun Shop: Discuss the tools, techniques and processes that have proven to be useful for the team. Highlighting what works and what we want to continue to strengthen is as important as raising flags. Load up your toolbelt with the good stuff!

3. The perfect plan…or is it? It’s time to chat about where and when things went wrong. Maybe you noticed that it’s taking longer to answer support tickets? Are your customers eating you live? Lean in to this discussion.

4. The Survivors diary: What lessons have you learned from your adventures? Maybe you’ve noticed that a certain cross-team collaboration was helpful in getting the job done. Whatever it may be, take stock of lessons learned to build strength for the next Sprint.

5. Unity is strength: How can we improve our team dynamics? Those Zombies are only as strong as our weakest team. The better the trust, collaboration, and communication, the more the team can handle. Get real with one another and have difficult conversations if needed. Push through the discomfort, as it will be worth it in the long run.

👉 Learn more about the Zombie Apocalypse retrospective activity here!

3. What did you learn? A thoughtful exercise for your team

What did you learn Retrospective Idea

Testing, iterating, making mistakes and learning from them. This is the bread and butter of Agile teams. Use this at the end of each Sprint or for a quarterly team review.

What’s it all about?

This retrospective activity gives space for each team member to reflect on learnings (about themselves, their work, the team, etc). While it might seem like a traditional retro, not to worry – this exercise brings a fresh perspective on how to surface and discuss these learnings.

How to conduct the retrospective (4 steps):

1. About me: What did you learn about yourself in the past Sprint? This reflection is great for building self-awareness, a domain of emotional intelligence that will serve you as both a colleague and human. Think about what energized you, what triggered you, and where you felt your best.

2. About the team: What have you learned about the team collectively? Have you noticed certain tendencies, strengths, or pitfalls? Think about the team culture or even how you work together under stress? Reflect, share, discuss. It’s interesting to see where there is alignment and differences in perspective.

3. About the deliverable, project, etc: Think about the deliverable itself, and all the processes leading up to it. What learnings do you have from how you scoped the project, the timelines, the execution and the go-live process? Surely there are many.

4. About anything else: Anything goes here. What else have you learned along the way? Shed light on these learnings so your team can begin to iterate and implement action items to improve continuously.

  • You know the drill. Try What did you learn? directly in Neatro. Hope to see you there!

👉 Learn more about the What did you learn? retrospective activity here!

4. Retro Football Club (4 steps) – smells like team spirit!

Football Club Retrospective Idea

Much like teams in the workplace, sports teams need to collaborate and communicate successfully if they want to win the match. This retrospective template allows teams to think like team players and review the last “game” to help them improve.

What’s it all about?

Each team member will deliver their match report to help the team identify their strengths and areas of improvement.

How to conduct the retrospective (4 steps):

1. The three points: In a single comment, give a score to your last Sprint (and explain why) as well as 3 facts about this game. For example: Score: 4/5, since we delivered the project on time but there was a bug in the code. 3 facts: The DoD was a bit unclear, the timelines were unrealistic, but the team mindset was positive and collaborative nonetheless.

2. What worked well: Think positive. What worked well the last Sprint? Even if you didn’t win the match, surely there are still moments and small feats you are proud of? Think of the assists and the techniques, beyond just getting the goal.

3. The difficulties: Review what was tricky and might have caused you the match. These conversations might be more difficult but all winning teams take the time to replay the game and catch any shortcomings.

4. To the next game: Discuss everyone’s state of mind and expectations for the next game. Does the upcoming Sprint seem challenging? What’s your mindset going into it and what are you hoping to see from your teammates over the next two weeks.

  • Get started with this unique retrospective activity directly in Neatro – it’s free and ready for you!

👉 Learn more about the Retro Football Club retrospective activity here!

5. From Canada, with love – This is a great retro, eh? (5 steps)

From Canada with love Retrospective Idea

Transport your team beyond the office walls to the Great North for a breath of fresh air. This activity format will give your team a little taste of Canada!

What’s it all about?

As a team, go through the highlights of your last Sprint or project, reviewing both the challenges and successes you encountered. Don’t forget to cap it off with some sweet words to keep team morale high. Off to Celine Dion land you go!

How to conduct the retrospective (4 steps):

1. More maple syrup: What made your last Sprint as sweet and nice as Canadians? Share some positive observations about the work you did individually or as a team.

2. Feels like -40: What bothered you about the last Sprint? Surface and discuss some pain points that you’d like to see improved. Encourage honesty in a safe space so your team can really confront issues head on.

3. Hockey > all: Discuss what matters most to you as a team. For example, a positive mindset might be a shared value. Then discuss how to live this value meaningfully together.

4. Lost in the barrens: What are your team’s greatest fears? Perhaps there’s anxiety about not reaching a goal, or hesitations that the next project isn’t well scoped. Take the time to raise the red flags now.

5. “Canadians are so nice”: Share a few kind words with your teammates. As we all know by now, a little gratitude can go a long way.

There you have it! 5 new and unique retrospective templates to keep your team excited about participating in the next meeting. Keep your eyes peeled for more custom templates from Neatro – we’ve got plenty of great things cooking. Until then, don’t forget to take these for a spin directly in our tool, built with love for you and your team.

👉 Learn more about the From Canada, with love activity here!

🎁 I want more retrospective ideas!

We hope you enjoyed our 5 unique retrospective experiences. We've had a lot of fun imagining them, testing them, and improving them over time.

If you want an extra dose of inspiration, there are over 20 other templates in our collection of retrospectives.

We wish you a good discovery! 😊

Discover Neatro's retrospective templates