The Sailboat Retrospective Template

The island is your team's objective and the wind is all the things that help your team to reach its goals.

What is the Sailboat retrospective?

Difficulty Level

The Sailboat is a popular and widespread retrospective technique in Agile teams.

Use this engaging and challenging exercise to help your teammates discuss their progress toward the team goal — no matter whether it's about the latest Sprint or a past project.

⛵ Imagine your team aboard a sailboat ready to set sail for a desert island. The island is your team's objective. The wind represents everything that will help the Sailboat reach the island. The anchor symbolizes things that can slow the boat down on its way. The iceberg, meanwhile, illustrates the dangers that could halt the journey.

Last but not least, the Sailboat activity is a good pick for any team, regardless of their experience level with retrospectives.

The 4 elements of the Sailboat template

The Island
Your team's objective.
e.g., acquire 10 new Premium customers by the end of the quarter.
The Wind
What helps your team move forward.
e.g., our blog articles offer great content and capture many leads.
The Anchor
Everything that is slowing you down.
e.g., most of our Freemium users do not understand the value of a Premium account.
The Iceberg
Potential risks.
e.g., our main competitor has launched a key feature, some of our users might be interested to leave us for this.

Why & when should you use the Sailboat retrospective?

The Sailboat is an excellent retrospective idea to project oneself into the team's near future. It is also an effective technique for aligning all team members towards a common goal, discussed and approved by all.

Has your team been given an ambitious objective recently? Do you believe you still need to get things prepared for that journey? Then, the Sailboat could be a wise choice to make your next retrospective a productive session.

This retrospective's design makes it possible to approach all kinds of concerns and challenges for the team.

Therefore, the team could discuss any of these topics (non-exhaustive list): Collaboration, Fun, Learnings, Mission, Ownership, Process, Resources, Roles, Speed, Value. Nutshell, anything that can help the team continuously improve is worth addressing.

The possibilities are endless with the Sailboat! 🐙

How to run the Sailboat retrospective?

The Sailboat retrospective is a great activity to run in a remote work context.

You can try the Sailboat template with your team for free by signing up for Neatro. No credit card is required. Note that participants do not need to create accounts to join a retrospective with Neatro.

Although we use the Neatro experience to show how to run the Sailboat retrospective model online, you can follow this guide and apply our tips for any other tool.

Step 1: Write comments
Let people write ideas and avoid groupthink.

Let's consider that you have already run an Icebreaker with your team and have done a follow-up on the action items from the last retrospective. Your team is now ready to start the activity.

This first step aims to let the participants write comments and post them in the different columns of your board.

⏱️ Make sure you start a Timer. Keeping track of time is a simple but crucial tip to ensure your team will successfully run an efficient retrospective.

Each column of your board helps you organize your ideas. Even if you are the facilitator of this retrospective, you will most likely take on the participant's role as well, right? Try to be as specific as possible so that your teammates can easily understand your comments.

To provide an appropriate level of psychological security, allow participants to share comments anonymously.

At this stage, you want to avoid group thinking at all costs. People should not influence each other in the process. Make sure people cannot see what other participants are writing in this step.

Reveal all comments after everyone has finished adding comments.

👍 With Neatro – Participants will only see their own comments at this step. They also have the option of writing comments using their name or anonymously. As a Facilitator, you will be able to set a Timer visible to everybody. Also, when a participant is done writing comments, he/she can click on “I’m finished” to let everybody know he/she’s ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Group comments
Get your board lean and well organized

This step allows you to regroup similar comments and attach/create topics.

1/ Drag and Drop Grouping

You might have a lot of comments displayed on the board at this point. Regroup similar comments to help your teammates understand the weight of each idea.

👍 With Neatro – If you find similar ideas, drag a comment on another to create a group. Click on the group to display all of the comments.

2/ Use topics to better identify your challenges

Regrouping similar comments is not enough! Adding topics will significantly help you organize your team's ideas.

"What's a topic?" you may ask. It could be anything. We usually tend to see "core team dimensions" reflected in the topics (e.g., Ownership, Value, Speed, Process, Collaboration, etc.). Still, you could create any topic that would help you efficiently manage your team's comments.

👍 With Neatro – To add a topic to any comment on Neatro, click on the "Add Topic" button. We already created 10 Neatro topics for you based on the most common team challenges, but you can also create your own topics.

Step 3: Vote
Time to prioritize items to focus on what really matters

Time to prioritize items to focus on what really matters.

Proceed to a vote session to narrow down the number of items you would like to discuss in the next phase.

Two rules that we heavily suggest to apply at this step:

- Make sure that nobody can see the other's votes.

- Allow each participant to spend their votes on one or multiple items.

👍 With Neatro – The number of votes can easily be changed if needed. The Facilitator needs to click on the wheel icon to update the maximum number of votes per person.

Step 4: Build your Team Action Plan
Collectively define what needs to be done to make the team grow

Collectively define what needs to be done to make the team grow.

Discuss the most voted topics or comments with your team to create action items.

Assign an owner to each action item, and provide a short and clear description so everyone can understand how to resolve their action items.

👍 With Neatro – You can play out with a collection of sorting rules and filters to better identify the comments that need to be discussed. Once you're done with the Action Plan, you can access your retrospective report.

Discover Neatro's retrospective templates

The Rock Band
The Zombie Apocalypse
What Did You Learn?
From Canada, with Love
The Learning Matrix
Retro Football Club
The Sailboat
Start Stop Continue
The Appreciation Game
Pros and Cons
Keep Drop Start
The Genie in a bottle
The 4Ls
What Went Well
The End-of-Year Retro
Glad Sad Mad