Spotify Retro Kit

The Spotify Retro Kit + A Better Alternative

If you attach great importance to agility and regularly hold retrospectives with your team, you've probably heard of the "Spotify Retrospective Kit".
This is a document published by Spotify in 2017 to help teams organize their own retrospectives.
But even though Spotify is considered one of the pioneers of agile working, the Spotify Retro Kit is getting a bit long in the tooth.
That's why I want to give you some insights into Spotify's Retro Kit in this article and show you what the better alternatives are.

The Spotify Retro Kit In Detail

In 2017, the Research & Development department of Spotify released the so-called Spotify Retro Kit.
The kit is a 10-page document consisting of two parts: The so-called black and colorful pages of the Retro Kit.

The black pages:
These pages of the Spotify Retro Kit contain instructions on how to use the Retro Kit. It shows the basics of retrospectives and is intended for all those who have little experience with retrospectives. Here you will find information about retro warm-up exercises, voting mechanisms and much more.

An example from the black pages of the Spotify Retro Kit (source: https://engineering.atspotify.com/2017/12/spotify-retro-kit/ )

The colorful pages: On these pages of the Spotify Retro Kit you will find the retrospectives themselves. They are designed so that you can follow them easily and step by step.

There are five different retrospectives to choose from: The Sailboat Retro (Green), Plus/Delta (Pink), WARP (Blue), Proud & Anxious (Orange) and the Lean Coffee Retro (Brown).

The sailboat retro of the Spotify Retro Kit (source: https://engineering.atspotify.com/2017/12/spotify-retro-kit/ )

The Spotify Retro Kit + A Better Alternative

The Problem With The Spotify Retro Kit

Even though Spotify has set a milestone in the agile working world with its Retro Kit, there are a few problems that come with it. Unfortunately, the Spotify Retro Kit is a PDF file, which is a nice guide, but poses some problems when implementing the retrospectives:

  • No interactivity: A PDF does not allow participants to interact, discuss or vote with each other. Online tools such as Echometer promote interactivity by offering features such as comments, likes, prioritization or grouping that make the retro more exciting and effective.
  • No automation: The Retro Kit requires you to manually enter, store and manage all data and information, which takes a lot of time and effort. Online tools automate many processes, such as creating retro templates, sending invitations, creating action plans or generating reports that make your life easier.
  • Little choice and topicality: Even if the five retrospectives in the Spotify Retro Kit are timeless, these five retros will always be the same. So you only have a manageable selection, which makes retrospectives quickly boring and you can't adapt the retros to every situation. Currently (as of Dec 2023), for example, the topic of agile delivery plays a major role. The Spotify Retrospective Kit from 2017 naturally does not have a retro on this topic due to its topicality. Online tools, on the other hand, are always up to date:

The Agile Delivery Retrospective:

When did your ways of working create a suboptimal flow of work (e.g., policies are unclear, not suitable or not adhered to)?

When has our way of working worked well?

What are recent examples for an increment that wasn't working / shippable at the end of the cycle?

The Spotify Retro Kit + A Better Alternative

Conclusion - A better alternative to the Spotify Retro Kit

There is no question that the Spotify Retro Kit is a very useful document and an important milestone for the agile working world.
But now, 5 years later, this fast-paced agile world has evolved and there are tools that go far beyond the scope of the Spotify Retro Kit and bring many more benefits.

With Echometer, for example, you can choose from over 50 retro templates, customize them to your needs in under 2 minutes and immediately send them to your team via email to answer the questions in advance. You can test the whole thing completely free of charge:

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Echometer is the easiest way to improve the team's delivery - for busy team leads

The tool combines agile health checks, action item tracking and interactive, psychology-based retrospectives on autopilot.

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