Appreciative Retrospective

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To remind everyone what a good job they're doing rather than focusing on negatives every time you run a retrospective.

Length of time:

60 minutes

Short Description:

An appreciative retrospective focuses on the positives “What did we do well? What worked ?”, instead of the usual “What went wrong? What can we do better?” tone of retrospectives. This style of retrospective uses Appreciative Inquiry to identify what went so well. There is no blame or negativity and builds on the Prime Directive: that everyone in the team did the best job they could possibly do.

Appreciative Inquiry builds on the positives, and attempts to amplify the good things we have done, and ensure that what makes us good is identified and refined. We usually end up losing sight of what works for us in retrospectives, as we focus on the problems to fix.


The usual - flip charts, post-it notes, whiteboard, pens etc.


1. Setting the stage. (5 minutes)

To set the positive tone, ask each member of the team to write a note of appreciation to someone else on the team on a post-it. When everyone has written their notes, go around the table and have them read it out loud.

2. Gather data (5 minutes)

This is a brainstorming exercise. Distribute post-its of 3 colours. On each coloured post-it, have everyone write the team’s successes, strengths and events during the past iteration. Use one colour for each. Write as many as possible. Stick these up on one section of the board.

3. Generate Insights

Brainstorm the future (10 minutes)

This is similar to the previous exercise but needs more creativity. Have the team time travel to the end of the next iteration. Imagine what their successes, strengths and events would be in the not so far future. What would they achieve if they keep doing the best they can?

Write these on the same coloured post-its as the previous exercise and stick them up on another part of the board. Affinity Mapping (15 minutes) Get the team to the board. Group the different post-its. It is ok to mix up the post-its. Look for common groups and themes, pull these out. Group them into their own sections on the board and circle and label them.

Dot voting (5 minutes) Have the team think about what groups/themes they want to sustain. Each member has two votes. Pick two groups with the most votes.

4. Decide what to do (15 minutes)

Based on what they have identified as their future successes, strengths and positive events, ask the team what actions can they take to achieve them. These could be in the form of “do more of, keep doing” actions. Pick two to three actions but not more.

Source:' Hibri Marzook also Agile in Action.

The "original" script for Appreciative Retrospectives can be found at

A lightweight, more playful variation can be found at