retro sailboat

Agile Retrospective Sailing – Retrospective Sailboat – A short video guide.

A short guide to facilitating a sailboat retrospective using the game retrospective sailing from being agile in business. Retrospective sailing is a great game to play with your team to help to reflect, learn and improve, and, in this sense, make your boat go faster!

This short video will explain how to play Retrospective Sailing, run through an example sailboat retrospective, and tips on how to map an actionable way forward following your retrospective.

Full Guide – Sailboat Retrospective Game

For a complete guide, tips, tactics and templates for facilitating your game of Retrospective Sailing click here

Transcript Video (you tube)

Sailboat Retrospective Game Video

0:03hi everyone uh this is a quick

0:05retrospective sailing case example so to

0:09talk you through the game uh sharing an

0:12example of retrospective



0:17uh this boat was created at a conference

0:20a few years ago so the purpose of the


0:24was to learn about how to play

0:26retrospect sailing and

0:29we did that by playing it so we did a

0:32retrospective on the conference itself

0:35and so we had um i think about six boats

0:39so we had a bit of a fleet going on in

0:41the room um and each paper is reflecting

0:44and reviewing on the conference itself

0:46as as a team

0:48and so it’s a real mix of people people

0:50didn’t know each other we just all got

0:51together kind of self-organized and uh

0:54here is one of the base examples from

0:56that workshop so

0:58um retrospective sailing’s really great

1:00team game

1:02um great for really looking at making

1:05sure that we’re all on track with our

1:07mission we’re

1:09looking at what’s going well we’re

1:10looking at what we can improve and do


1:14um and we’ll also critically

1:17identify those actions that are actually

1:19going to make our bet go faster so it’s

1:22great to review and reflect but we do

1:24actually have to follow that through

1:25with actions so

1:27um this game particularly and this

1:28variation of retro sailing um is um

1:32really great for making sure we’ve got

1:34some really key takeaways that we could

1:35take forward an action um as a team and

1:39make it

1:40go faster

1:42um so you can see this bow um they’ve

1:45drawn their boat so first part of the

1:46exercises for their boat and always give

1:49everybody a colored marker and get them



1:53add a bit of artistic license as well so

1:55i um go with the minimum viable boat

1:57which is a hull um sales and an anchor


2:03so this bait was great it’s got a

2:05mermaid there and an octopus and some

2:07fish starfish sunshine

2:09and it’s called the sunshine ship so

2:11that’s a really good start i think is

2:13that they’ve named it a really sunny

2:15nice name

2:16um and we’ve agreed the topic of the

2:18retrospective is the conference itself

2:20um so first or first things um the

2:24uh team do is they um

2:27add their mission to the whole of the

2:29boat so everybody’s gotta paste it down

2:31and paste it notes and pen and so

2:34everybody can add their different uh

2:36missions so what they’ve come to the

2:38conference for why they why are they


2:40um so you can see we’ve got to learn to

2:43network to take great thinking away to

2:46apply hq

2:47and to learn learn to share my crazy

2:50ideas with people to meet others in the

2:52industry make friends in the agile


2:55leveling up to get out the office um and

2:58sharing learning back at hq as well i

3:01would say there’s some really nice

3:02synergy there around learning taking

3:04sharing back meeting new people

3:06networking sharing ideas and so it’s

3:09really nice that we can see already that

3:11that group’s got some really nice

3:12synergy about why they came to the

3:14conference what they’re hoping to


3:17and so next up we get everybody to add

3:20their sales say what’s putting the ring

3:21in their sales what’s been really great

3:23about the conference and that’s really

3:25helped to take them forward in terms of

3:27their mission that they’ve just mapped

3:29and so we can see that there’s lots of

3:31networking opportunity

3:34very friendly people loving the

3:35practical sessions tweet about speakers


3:40in the run-up really helpful slack

3:42channel variety of talks refreshments


3:46good amount of people in the room air

3:48conditioning very friendly people

3:51easy to

3:52work with people and and people that

3:56never man don’t know um

3:58see really great sales being identified

4:01here that’s taking them forward and

4:03again some really nice synergy um and um

4:07it’s really nice to see repetition

4:09actually across the team because it

4:10shows that it’s a shared sale that we

4:13all agree that it’s a great thing um and

4:16that exactly taking our date forward

4:19and then once we’ve done that we then um

4:21think about what our challenge is what

4:23what do we feel could be better about

4:25the conference

4:27and now that we’ve experienced it what

4:29could we improve

4:30um and these are represented by those

4:32anchors so these post techniques down

4:35the bottom here represent the anchors so

4:38um we’ve got um

4:40around didn’t get booked from the

4:42keynote uh missing the sunshine

4:46um hotel accommodation issues here

4:50and too many sessions i was wanted to go

4:53to you say and and another one there too

4:56much choice so we’ve grouped those two

4:57because they’re quite similar um too

4:59much choice scene

5:01um well anchor can’t decide which one to

5:03go to and then i think one of my most

5:06favorite anchors ever that i’ve seen on

5:07a baby is not enough chocolate cake and

5:09again and not enough chick cake so two

5:11people i don’t divide that and not


5:14uh salmon as well at lunch so looking at

5:17the food and the refreshments there


5:20so again we we’ve identified some key

5:23um anchors there and that um are really

5:27holding people back from being able to

5:29fulfill their mission so what’s what’s

5:30holding them back and what they could

5:32potentially do better


5:35so once we’ve got our mission so we’ve

5:38got our mission on our bait there we’ve

5:39got our sales for our anchors team and

5:41you might have noticed there’s some

5:42numbers on the sales and the anchors so

5:44what we do next is we scale those sales

5:47and scale those anchors so we’re looking


5:50um on a scale of one to ten how big is

5:54this sale so how good is this how much

5:58is it taking us forward towards our

5:59mission so you can see that i love the

6:01practical sessions right in the middle

6:03there has got 10 out of 10 it’s the main

6:05sale taking us forward

6:07um whereas um one or two you know it’s

6:10just a nice little nice to have so it’s

6:12nice to have sale and not particularly

6:15you know taking us forward that fast but

6:17but certainly enjoyable and so and

6:20positive say we’ve got slack channel

6:22there has got two

6:24and then similarly with our anchors we

6:26want to scale those on a minus one to a

6:29minus ten

6:30um so minus one is it’s a minor

6:33impediment minor irritation so you’re

6:35not enough to replicate a minus one but

6:37it is but it was repetitive so that was

6:39interesting to see

6:41um and then the um too much twisted

6:44torques was a minus seven here so that’s

6:46a much bigger anchor much more slowing

6:48our boat down

6:50and often when i’m doing this in

6:51practical sessions what i get people to

6:53do is kind of vote blindly or vote with

6:56them their their hats so

6:58um on a scale of one to ten obviously

7:00you can kind of go ten or 5 and

7:02similarly with the negatives you can do

7:04that as well um also quite useful thing

7:07is like higher or lower so once you’ve

7:09got a benchmark of right this is a seven

7:11um right is this next one higher or


7:16again that’s really good conversational


7:19and the key is this conversation is

7:20actually getting people talking about

7:22things and getting people sharing

7:23getting that better understanding

7:26um about what they mean because

7:27sometimes things can be sales and

7:29anchors as well so they can have a

7:30positive you know this is really taking

7:32us forward in one regard but as it’s

7:34holding us back in another so we can

7:36really explore the dynamics of those

7:39so now we’ve got really lots of

7:40conversation going on everybody’s

7:42chatting we’ve got some numbers on our

7:44sales of our anchors and the key and

7:47really vital final part of this exercise

7:50is to look at how we can raise those

7:52cells and raise those anchors so the

7:54yellow specifics you can see here and

7:57this is where everybody gets different

7:59kind of post-it note and what we do is

8:01we start thinking about how could we

8:03raise one of those sales or one of those

8:05anchors just by one point so remembering

8:08we want to take an agile approach to

8:10things is that we don’t want to just

8:12kind of turn that minor seven into a

8:13plus seven it’s not realistic

8:15um and and probably take quite a lot of

8:17time so what could we do quite quickly

8:20that would be a quick win that we could

8:21take forward um perhaps in the space of

8:24the conference we use the context law

8:26for indeed next conference round so the

8:28next conferences are running in a couple

8:29of months time

8:31and we did tend to meet in towards out

8:33there we did run this halfway through

8:35the conference so we could get any vital

8:37feedback on any major major minor sense

8:40if there were any which there weren’t um

8:43and and whether we could help remedy

8:44they say so i i know that the team did

8:47help with that minus four hotel

8:48accommodation for example and just gave

8:50some tips on that um and you can see um

8:54in terms of feedback and recommendations

8:57um that the team had quite a nice lot of

8:59ideas that were kind of things that we

9:01could take forward that we could take

9:03that that so these in essence will fill

9:06through into your backlog so these are

9:08potentially improvement opportunities

9:11and whether they’re around your process

9:13or your content whatever your your

9:15theming your retrospective on but

9:17certainly these yellow post-it notes in

9:19this instance were really useful for the

9:21conference team the organizers for them

9:23to look at and really see where they

9:25were that where there were issues

9:27whether they were minor issues or major

9:29issues and how we could help take them

9:30forward and indeed make good things even

9:32better as well so i think it was the

9:34first year that the slack channel was

9:35there um and so there was some really

9:38great feedback on you know having

9:39somebody on there that was kind of

9:41helping facilitate that and promote it

9:43and to use it a bit more and encourage

9:46people whereas people were just picking

9:48up at the conference and so i thought

9:50that was really really great for

9:52bit feedback

9:53so there we have an example i think a

9:56and then an example of a story is always

9:58always um really valuable for sharing

10:01exercises and tools and how they’re used

10:03and i do really encourage people to play

10:05this at all times with all different

10:07types of people not just as an agile

10:09process review tool but actually you

10:11know to get those conversations going

10:13with your clients with your partners

10:15with your suppliers and with your peers

10:18your team members other people in

10:20different teams you know um it’s a

10:23really really great exercise and um it’s

10:25a really great conversation builder as

10:27well and a nice break essay and people

10:29tend to really enjoy it and it’s about

10:31fun and a bit creativity um and helps to

10:35really kind of bring out the

10:36conversation and bring out those ideas


10:40without being kind of too

10:42too critical to say very much kind of

10:44framed in a positive way as well um so i

10:47hope you’ve enjoyed that example and

10:50thanks very much

10:54and on my website you can find a little

10:57template for retro sailing as well um if

11:00you want to use it say this just gives

11:02you a little bit of a template and draw

11:04your vote give it a name add the mission

11:07your sales and your anchors scale those

11:09and then add your plus one improvements

11:12as well so you can find that at being

11:15agile dot

11:17co dot uk

Presented by Belinda Waldock, originator of ‘being agile’ and ‘retrospective sailing’ the game

Belinda Waldock is the author of Being Agile in Business. Belinda is a business coach, trainer, speaker and author. She supports organisations and teams to adopt an agile way of working to enhance their wellbeing, productivity and growth. Belinda’s book, Being Agile in Business is a popular non-technical introduction to agile thinking, approaches and culture. Her business, ‘being agile’ works with teams across a variety of areas to adopt agile thinking and practices, helping them to grow and sustain an agile culture in their organisations.