what went well retrospective

3 Tips for the What Went Well Retrospective incl. Template

You just searched Google for "What Went Well Retrospective"? Great, then you've landed in the right place here🎉
The What Went Well Retro is a rather simple retrospective that focuses on the result that was produced in the last Sprint (more on "Result Oriented" vs. "Emotion Oriented" later).


What Went Well Retrospective

The 2 (3) questions to ask in a What Went Well Sprint Retrospective💡

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 exactly this simplicity, has it often in itself🔎

To the two basic What Went Well Retrospective questions, I always like to add "What can we improve?" because I find a solution-oriented focus in retros very purposeful.
With that in mind, let's dive a little deeper into the questions🤿

If you want to try this retrospective or any of 50+ other templates for free, you can do so in our agile team continuous improvement tool:

What Went Well Retrospective Questions + Examples

Open Feedback Questions

What went well?

What went not so well?

How can we improve?

As seen in the chart, there are the following two, or in our case three, questions of the What Went Well Retrospective...👀

What went well? (What worked well?)👍🏽

✅ExampleExample: 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? (What didn't work so well?)👎🏽

✅Example: It's good to look at agile metrics like your team's velocity from time to time – Unfortunately, that hasn't happened much lately! We should get better at keeping track of our metrics.
👉🏽 More info about: "
agile metrics".


What can we improve? (What can we improve?)🙌🏽

✅ExampleYou have the feeling that not everyone in your team dares to speak up. So the so called "psychological safety" should be improved. So you could do more often an agile team Health Check in 3 steps in the team.
👉🏽 More info about: "
psychological safety" or "Team health check in 3 steps".

As you can see, the questions are very straightforward. That's absolutely not a bad thing. In my eyes, the spice is in the brevity.
So this simple What Went Well Retro gives you the ability to get to the point quickly without a lot of bells and whistles. Among other things, this can also shorten the time of retrospectives⏰.

In analyzing more than 30,000 retrospectives, we have found that short retrospectives are perceived as significantly more valuable than longer retros. The ideal duration here is between 31-45 minutes⚡.
With this sporty time, there is not always time for fabulous questions. 
👉🏽More information 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☝🏽

The importance of feelings, however, 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. 

Most Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters run in circles...

...fixing superficial symptoms. Time to use psychology to foster sustainable mindset change.

"Many team members are afraid to speak up!"

"We discover too many unexpected issues & bugs at a late stage!"

"Why does it sometimes take me hours to prepare a simple retrospective?"

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. Especially when deadlines are tight, 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 also 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🎁

Do you want to start your first What Went Well retrospective right away? Then try out our Echometer tool for continuous improvement of agile teams🚀.

Open Feedback Questions

What went well?

What went not so well?

How can we improve?

Share this article in your network

Need a team boost? Do this: The Spotify Health Check Retrospective!

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

Sounds good? Try our retro tool for free below.

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