what went well retrospective

What Went Well Retrospective incl. Board

You just searched Google for "what went well retrospetive"? Great, then you've come to the right place. – The what went well retro is a rather simple retrospective with focus on the result that was generated in the last sprint (more about "result oriented" vs. "emotion oriented" later).


What Went Well Retrospective

The 2 (3) questions to ask in a what went well sprint retro:

First things first: the what went well retro asks the two most basic questions related to the last sprint cycle (what went well? + what went not so well?). But it's this simplicity that often gets the job done. 


To the two basic what went well retrospective questions, I always like to add the "what can we improve" question, as I always find a solution-oriented focus in retros very purposeful. With that in mind, let's dive a little deeper into the questions:

What Went Well Retrospective Questions + Examples

Open Feedback Questions

What went well?

What went not so well?

How can we improve?

As you can see in the chart, there are the following two, or in our case three, questions of the what went well retrospective....

  • What went well?
    • Example: You were very happy with the new tool to help with prioritization & transparency of the product backlog. It should definitely be used further.
  • What went not so well?
    • Example: It's good to look at agile metrics like your team's velocity from time to time – that hasn't happened much lately unfortunately! We should get better at keeping track of our metrics. (Read more: "agile metrics")
  • What can we improve?
    • Example: You have the feeling that not everyone in your team dares to speak up. The so-called "psychological safety" should be improved. So you could do an agile team health check in 3 steps in your team more often. (More info on: "psychological safety" or "Team health check in 3 steps")



As you can see, the questions are very straightforward. But that's absolutely not a bad thing: in my eyes, brevity is the spice of life. So this simple what went well retro gives you the opportunity to get to the point quickly without a lot of bells and whistles. Among other things, this can also shorten the time of retrospectives. After all, in analyzing more than 30,000 retrospectives, we found that short retrospectives are perceived as significantly more valuable than longer retros. The ideal duration here is between 31-45 minutes. Unfortunately, this sporting time does not always leave time for fabulous questions. (More info about: "4 tips from over 30,000 retrospectives")

What Went Well Retrospective

Facts do not care about the feelings

This statement sounds incredibly harsh at first. But it should in no way question the importance of well-being in your team. It should rather show that the feelings and the result can be partly different. 

However, the importance of feelings should not downplay the importance of factual outcomes – both are important! 

In my eyes, part of the job of a good Agile coach or Scrum master is to strike a healthy balance here and adjust the focus so that any situation can be handled with confidence.

Especially when deadlines are tight, I like to try to focus on the results through the what went well retrospective. Of course, this should not be a permanent state, but you can also choose a retro format with a little more air around the ears, which is more responsive to the emotional state of the team. 

And while this can be a balancing act, it doesn't mean it has to be. As written before, the what went well sprint retro is a super way to shorten the retro duration and in case of tight deadlines, for example, this can be the right move both factually and emotionally. – Who feels good about sitting in long meetings on tight deadlines?

Now, if you're looking for inspiration for more retros formats that cover the entire spectrum, this blog article is definitely for you: 54 retrospectives for beginners and professionals.


Conclusion – What Went Well Retrospective

I could write for hours about the what went well retrospective, but I really don't want to make it more complicated than it is.
So if you are looking for a crisp retro to either shorten the time of your retro or to steer the focus in a more result-oriented direction, you are optimally positioned with the what went well retrospective.

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Try the Spotify Health Check Retrospective!

First question: "😍 We love going to work, and have great fun working together."

Sounds interesting? Try the format in our retro tool:

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