KALM retrospective

Sprint retrospective idea – Keep Calm and Carry On by calibrating team workload.

What is the KALM retrospective?

“Keep Calm And Carry On” is a very British notion believed to have been first used as a morale booster in a war-time poster; the idea was that one politely acknowledged the challenges but didn’t allow those challenges to get the better of them.

It is with that stereotypical British fortitude (and good manners) that the KALM retrospective can be viewed.

KALM is a popular interactive sprint retrospective idea that presents team members with an opportunity to share their perceived value of the various aspects of the sprint. It reinforces the notion that all ideas are good ideas noting that some bring more value than others within the project context.

KALM offers participants a polite way of framing their support (‘keep’) or lack thereof (‘less’) of the various aspects of the sprint. It could therefore allow team members who may not feel comfortable presenting their opinion a safe environment to share.

At the same time, it promotes a sense of agency and utility allowing them to come up with ideas about what they could add or do more of to essentially help them carry on.

KALM retrospective format


These are elements of the sprint that went well, delivered value and do not need to be changed.

These are a new ideas or things the team perceives will bring value to the team or customer.

These are things that currently exist, but team members either do not enjoy, are viewed as problematic or erode value.

These are things that are being done already but can drive more value if it was done more often, with greater regularity or with more effort.


Suggested Icebreaker questions for KALM retrospectives

  • When have you kept calm and carried on?
  • What would be beneficial if you had less of it in your life?
  • What are you putting off starting?

Retro Rehearsal

Invite your team to rehearse the retro referencing a drink.

For example, think of a drink that isn’t quite what you like. If it were to be changed, what would you keep, what would you add, what would you reduce or what would you increase?

Ideas and tips for your KALM retrospectives

  • This sprint retrospective idea might be really useful during a cycle of high stress. It helps address the balance and work load issue by helping to equalise both the aspects of working out what is valuable to keep, and what should be removed.

  • You can add specific thresholds for what makes sense. I.e. Only keeps if it lower technical debt, only add if it has been customer validated, Only do less if it does not introduce additional risk or lack of compliance and only More if there is energy and capacity to take it on.

  • Taking a high level view of what has been created is a good way to see if the team is on the right track. If there are too many things in any one area would warrant greater discussion.

  • Make brainstorming anonymous to allow people to feel safe when contributing their thoughts.

    People will feel more engaged when they feel like they can air what they need to.

  • Use the concepts of brain writing – give people “silent time” to write, read and respond to what is being presented. It might just be a minute that can make all the difference.

  • Need to turn one of the idea into an action item or team agreement? You can do it directly in TeamRetro and turn a comment into a proposed action or team agreement. You can then more easily follow up.

  • This is a very action focussed retrospective format so a key success factor will be the follow up to help realise the outcomes of the retrospective. Operationalising and executing the list is key.

How to run a KALM retrospective in TeamRetro

Start Agile Retrospective

Start your retrospective in a click
Log into TeamRetro and choose your sprint retrospective template.

Invite Your Team
Invite your team easily – no separate accounts needed
Send an email invite, a link or add to your Slack channel to get people started quickly. SSO options are also available.
Agile Retrospective Brainstorm
Time to brainstorm
Each team member can now brainstorm individually under each topic. This avoids group think and allows everyone to have their say. They can indicate when they have finished, or you can set a timer so that you know when to move onto the next stage.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Group related ideas
Drag and drop  related ideas to combine them for easier voting. TeamRetro can also automatically suggest ideas that are similar, saving you and your team valuable time.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting
Vote independently to avoid anchoring
Each team member votes on what they would most like to discuss further. The results won’t be displayed to everyone until you advance to Discuss.
Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

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.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

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.

Grouping of ideas after brainstorming in a retrospective meeting

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.

Congratulations! You’ve just run a retro like a boss.
Want more? Read on.