Heard of the term “smooth sailing”? This agile retrospective technique turns your team into the crew of a sailboat travelling to its final destination: a sunny island. It uses this metaphor to help the people reflect on the last sprint, in order to determine the best way to navigate going forward.
Imagine that your team is working together aboard a sailboat heading on a journey to your final destination. Along the way, you are propelled forward by the wind. You can be slowed or stopped by the anchor. You will have to avoid icebergs, reefs or rocks, but you have your mind set on the sunny island where your team hopes to land and celebrate. The Sailboat retrospective takes this adventurous imagery and helps you to apply it to your last sprint.
Sailboat retrospective format
Before starting the Sailboat retrospective, ask the team to imagine themselves as the crew of the sailboat. Another way to think about it is that the Sailboat is the product, project or epic that they are working on. Now, ask them to consider the following.
What is the final destination for the team? What is their goal or vision? This is where they are heading to and represents their version of success.
The Wind (or the sails)
What is pushing the team forward towards their vision? What is driving them towards the goal? It could be their own capability, support from champions, being well resourced or being motivated by a common goal.
What would slow the team down, or bring them to a complete stop? What would create drag and reduce velocity? It may be a dependency or policy. It could be a lack of process or one that is too complex. Some anchors may be necessary, and others need to be considered to see if they will be a constant drain on the team, making them less agile and achieving less progress.
What are the risks or potential pitfalls along the way? What does the team have to watch out for? There may be communication gaps, the response from competition or technical risk that could unhinge the team. Understanding what the risks are early can help the team think of ways to navigate around them or put signals in place as a warning as part of the next sprint.
What is making the team feel positive? What are the good things that can come out of this? These may be things that they look forward to and may include customer feedback, usage or improving the robustness of their infrastructure.
Some other aspects that people can include into their Sailboat Retrospective template include Choppy Waves (Things that make them feel anxious) or Calm Waves (Things that can help them experience a state of flow).
This style of retrospective can be used when your team is having trouble completing a task. Having the ability to see what has been slowing you down and what you have achieved despite this, can be helpful in providing confidence when trying to complete a difficult task.