Guidelines for the Retrospective

Step 1: Turn your brain on

 5 min

Welcome everyone to the retrospective meeting and establish the rules of engagement:

  • Embrace a positive spirit of continuous improvement and share whatever you think will help the team improve.

  • Don't make it personal, don't take it personally.

  • Listen with an open mind, and remember that everyone's experience is valid (even those you don't share).

  • Set the boundary of your discussion — is it that last sprint? The last quarter? Since the project started? Be clear how far back you're going to go.

  • Encourage the team to embrace an improvement mindset, away from blame.

Step 2: What went well?

 10 min

Start the session on a positive note. Have each team member use green sticky notes to write down what they feel went well (one idea per sticky). As people post their stickies on the whiteboard, the facilitator should group similar or duplicate ideas together.

Discuss your ideas briefly as a team.

Step 3: What needs improvement?

10 min

Same structure as above, but using pink or red stickies. Remind your team that this is about actions and outcomes — not about specific people.

Step 4: Next steps

5 min

Having identified what didn't go so well, what concrete actions can the team take to improve those things? Have your team use blue sticky notes to place ideas on the board. Group them and then discuss as a team, agree to which actions you will take, assign owners and a due date to get them DONE.

Thank everyone for their involvement and their honesty. Quickly run through the list of follow-up items, their owners, and due dates.


Atlassian is a collaboration software company powering teams around the world. With the help of products like Jira, Trello, Confluence, and more, teams of any size can plan, track, build, and work better together. Learn more about their tools, or about the Atlassian Team Playbook (a free resource), at
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