Team retrospectives

Team retrospectives, or "retros" for short, are a tool for recurring group reflection to learn and improve as much as possible. Most teams have monthly retrospectives planned. Topics in scope can be anything from work contents, tooling, collaboration, education, etc.


Effective retrospectives require that:

  • VSHNeers feel in a safe environment for feedback and discussion to open up.

  • There’s a plan for advancing the discussion from facts to conclusions

Safe environment

  • We recommend retrospectives to have an impartial moderator. If participants feel that the moderator has a stake in the conversation, they may feel as though it’s not safe to voice dissent or share concerns.

  • Not only are emotions allowed in retrospectives, but they should also be encouraged.

  • When possible, all parties should be present.

  • Prepare asynchronously for the retro, write down items for the next retro as you notice them, for example in your private wiki space.

  • When necessary, meet people face to face.


  • Introduction: reminder about scope and purpose of this retrospective.

  • Gather data: collect facts from attendees. There are different formats like "what went well/what can we do better," "start/stop/continue," "start/stop/continue/more/less," "mad/sad/glad," "liked/learnt/lacked," etc. We use tools like Miro or RetroTool as support.

  • Generate insights: group, deduplicate and discuss the facts. Identify patterns or causal relationships.

  • Decide what to do: Vote on the most important issues that should be addressed now. Discuss action items to address these issues.

  • Closing: Make sure all of the action items are appropriately assigned to one or more team members with clear expectations for when they should be completed. Thank all participants, and review insights and outcomes.


Follow up with the action items in the team weekly to create accountability for their progress.