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Sprint Retrospective technique – The Sailboat – Duncan Halley's Blog Skip to main content

Sprint Retrospective technique – The Sailboat

Here I’ll look at one of the practical techniques you can use to promote discussion and learning in your Sprint Retrospectives.


This technique uses a sailing boat as a metaphor for the team. The wind represents the things that are pushing the team forward, while anchors represent the things that are holding it back.

Using a diagram of the boat, team members use post-it notes to detail items in each of the above categories. They then stick them to the diagram in the appropriate place and read it out as they do so. You may find that common themes emerge, so related notes can be grouped together.

Once all the notes are posted, the team may choose to dot vote on those they think are most important. Usually each member has around 3 votes, which they can distribute however they wish.

The team then looks at the items under each heading. The ‘wind’ items are those that the team should continue doing. While the ‘anchor’ items should be addressed to remove the impediments. Perhaps ‘anchor’ items can even be transformed into ‘wind’ items?


Going forward

You don’t have to stick with the sailboat metaphor, there are many other objects you could use – cars, hot air balloons, a tree.

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