What is the Anchors and Engines Retrospective?
The anchors & engines retrospective is a great exercise to use when you want to focus on the velocity of your project. This retrospective template aims to identify factors within your team that are blocking or slowing it down, or speeding it up.
By keeping this exercise simple, it helps the team focus on what has been slowing them down and speeding them up. This allows you to create take away actions for the next sprint to ensure that you can meet your delivery outcomes.
This retrospective format is best run when there has been issues with sticking to the critical path, issues in meeting sprint goals or changes in deadlines.
A breakdown of the anchors & engines retrospective format
Using the metaphor of being on a speedboat, the team imagines that they are heading towards their island destination. The boat is then the desired outcome or deliverable. A way to represent a sense of urgency is to imagine that there are people on the island who need to food and medical supplies. The goal is to get to the island on time.
Anchors– These are all the things that are slowing the people down or process down. Ask the team to list all the things that are holding them back.
There will always be a balance of both elements and this is certainly important. Having the right ratios is what is key to a successful delivery. If your project requires speeding up, then you may need to create more engines in the project or further boost (support) existing engines. At the same time, removing, cutting off or reducing the size of anchors that are creating a drag on the project will also have positive effects.
Suggested Icebreaker questions for Anchors and Engine Retrospectives
- Where did you go on your last cruise OR where would you like to go?
- Would you rather have a reliable anchor or an unreliable engine?
- If you were part of a boat, what part would you be and why?
Invite your team to rehearse the retro referencing a change in diet. Then, ask them to
- Name an anchor that slows you down or stops you.
- Name an engine that drives or carries you forward.
Ideas and tips for your Anchors & Engine Retrospectives
Set the stage. Let people know that the objective of the retrospective is to address the current velocity of the project and how the team can improve this. It’s a great time to remind people that the goal is not to blame individuals but identify behaviors, policies or actions that might be improved.
Making this brainstorm anonymous will help provide a sense of safety especially if there are anchors that might otherwise be sensitive in nature.
While one of the questions focuses on current engines, you can also ask them to brainstorm potential future engines. These are things that are not currently in place (such as an online retrospective tool) that could speed things up.
Remember that there are some anchors that are necessary. Just like a real boat, an anchor is a useful device! Too many engines might push the ship in the wrong direction or off course.
One way to quickly reflect on the effectiveness of the actions taken is to redo the anchors and engine retrospective and to see if there have been any changes in the comments or votes.
A thank you goes a long way. Give a shout out to the team at the end of the meeting.
How to run an Anchors & Engines retrospective in TeamRetro
Start your retrospective in a click
Log into TeamRetro and choose your sprint retrospective template.
Discuss the most important things first
You and your team discuss the top voted ideas and can capture deep dive comments. Presentation mode allows you to walk your team through ideas one-by-one and keep the conversation focused.
Review and create actions
Easily facilitate discussion by bringing everyone onto the same page. Create action items, assign owners and due dates that will carry through for review at the next retrospective.
Share the results
Once you have finished your retro, you can share the results and actions with the team. Your retro will be stored so you can revisit them as needed.