What Did You Learn? - A Thoughtful Agile Retrospective Template

A simple retrospective template, based on each member's learnings.

What is this retrospective technique all about?

Difficulty Level
Easy

"Retrospectives are always about the same thing, over and over again. We deal with what went well, what didn't go well, and we define an action plan to improve as a team. But, unfortunately, we must say it's becoming boring for us." -Anonymous, 2021.

If you share this point of view, now would be a great time to break the retrospective routine. The Neatro team has come up with a new retrospective idea named What Did You Learn? that truly breaks the good old rules of a "traditional" retrospective.

Instead of going through facts and events by focusing on what was efficient or not, this activity lets your team members share what they've learned all along the way. ๐Ÿ“š

During the last Sprint, what did you learn about yourself? About the team? About the Sprint and the deliverable? Or about anything else that would be valuable to share?

This retrospective technique brings a fresh perspective that heavily relies on everyone's learnings. So don't be surprised if you find out that a joint event brings out very different lessons learned from one team member to another.

The 4 elements of What Did You Learn?

About me
What did you learn about yourself?
e.g., I managed to trust myself enough to write an entire blog post!
About the Team
Anything you learned about the team?
e.g., I noticed we have excellent resistance to stress
About the Deliverable
What about the deliverable (or Sprint, or project)?
e.g., our DoD wasn't clear enough for our developers
About anything else
Did you learn anything else along the way?
e.g., using Neatro for our retro made us save much time

Why & when should you use this template?

This facilitation technique is a good fit for any Sprint (or Iteration) Retrospective.

As we mentioned earlier, What Did You Learn? greatly emphasizes on each member's learnings acquired during the last Sprint. As a Retrospective facilitator, you might want to use this activity to both break the retrospective routine and celebrate the team members' learnings. ๐Ÿ™Œ

What Did You Learn? could also be particularly effective for a quarterly team review.

If you want to bring a unique perspective to your next retrospective - and save much preparation time and efforts - we strongly suggest you to try the What Did You Learn? template on Neatro.

How to run the What Did You Learn? template

This retrospective template has been built by the Neatro team. We have created and enhanced this retro with the support of the Neatro community.

You can try the What Did You Learn? activity with your team for free by signing up for Neatro. No credit card is required. Note that participants do not need to create any account to join a retrospective with Neatro.

Although we use the Neatro experience to show how to run the What Did You Learn? model online, you can follow this guide and apply our tips for any other solution.

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

You have gathered your team members - virtually or not. Moreover, you have already run an effective 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 What Did You Learn? activity.

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

โฒ Make sure you have a Timer at your disposal. 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.

๐Ÿ‘ With Neatro โ€“ 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, they can click on โ€œIโ€™m finishedโ€ to let everybody know they're 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.

๐Ÿ‘ 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.

๐Ÿ‘ 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

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.

๐Ÿ‘ 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

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.

๐Ÿ‘ 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.

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