What is the sailboat retrospective?

Working on different projects is not easy. A lot of the time, you simply do not know where to begin or what to do. One of the best ways to kick-start a project is by using the sailboat retrospective model. It is an important tool that you can use to assess past performance and identify areas that require improvement. Through visual metaphors, it offers all the answers that you are looking for. 

How to use a sailboat retrospective?

Whether you have a remote or co-located agile team, the sailboat retrospective (or it can be called agile sailboat retrospective) is an effective technique for making sure that your entire team follows the same vision while taking on different issues. In this article, we break down everything that you need to know about the method. 

The 4 steps to a sailboat retrospective

1. Iceberg (Rocks)

One of the first steps of the sailboat retrospective is the iceberg or rocks. It involves finding risks that threaten the success of your team. This step requires your team to detach itself and view the project from a bigger perspective. It is the only way that you can expect to find hidden risks. By identifying threats early on, you get to ensure that they do not cause any damage. 

2. Anchors

The next step of a sailboat retrospective is anchors. They are delaying issues that prevent your team from getting work done before the deadline. Take a close look at factors that hold your team back. There are bound to be blockers that slow down progress. 

For instance, a lack of clarity when it comes to key objectives could prove to be a huge hindrance. Other examples of anchors include a lack of motivation or an inability to view the bigger picture. This step requires you to focus on introspection in order to identify how you can improve. 

3. Wind

Wind involves the identification of the drivers behind your team’s success. Find out who or what helps the team. It could be a client who is supportive or a detailed project roadmap. This step provides an opportunity for you to recognize which team members have made the most contribution to the project or sprint. All you need to do is focus on keeping the wind blowing so that you are able to achieve the desired results. 

4. Destination (Land)

A shared set of goals is fundamental for ensuring optimum results. Having a destination in mind would motivate your employees to work harder. Common goals play a huge role in acting as a driver. The main focus should be on establishing short-term and long-term goals which each team member should be aware of. The goal might be to market the product in the shortest amount of time possible or to build a product that delivers the highest customer satisfaction. It is an integral step as it drives team alignment. 

How to run one with your team?

To put the sailboat retrospective into practice, you can use Weje. It provides the ultimate template that you can use to simplify the process. Take advantage of a ready-made template to dive straight into a project or sprint retrospective with the team. 

It is quite easy to use the tool as you can start adding items to the template for each of the sections (i.e. iceberg, anchors, wind, and destination). Weje lets you choose from a variety of templates to fast-track sprints and projects. The following steps help break down what you need to do. 

  • The first thing that you need to do is get your team involved. Share the template with them so that you all can work together to start including points. Add the team by including their email addresses.
  • The next thing that you need to do is set a deadline and request each team member to contribute by sharing feedback in the form of digital sticky notes. Select a different sticky note color for each team member to keep track of everyone’s feedback.
  • Then, you need to have a meeting to discuss the feedback that each team member has shared to identify things to include in the templates. The comments should guide you.  
  • Once important comments have been added to the relevant section, you can download the template and share it with everyone over the cloud. 

When you would use this technique?

A great thing about the sailboat retrospective is that it is quite simple and is suitable for just about every situation. When you have teams working together or a team that is large and dependent on each other, it is best that you put the technique into practice in order to avoid any issues preventing the project from being completed. If you are looking to find the good bits and areas which require attention, it has got you covered. 

Some of the situations where you will need to use the technique include team motivation, elimination of frustrations, and improvement of processes. The visual templates offered by Weje have a collaborative nature that helps bind your teams together to ideate and solve problems together.  

What you can expect to get out of this technique?

The sailboat retrospective technique is gaining traction among agile teams. Unlike lessons learned retrospective and other traditional sprint retrospectives, you can count on the sailboat retrospective technique for driving engagement and ensuring that your team focuses on the bigger picture. As the Weje template is quite simple, technical knowledge is not necessary to put it to good use. 

Why is the sailboat retrospective technique so effective?

There are a host of reasons why the sailboat retrospective technique is so effective. However, a major reason behind its adoption is that it is rather fun as it allows you to reflect on past sprints and brainstorm ideas. Besides, by using this technique, you get to ensure that the organization goals are more digestible as even someone who does not know much about agile terminology or concepts is able to understand it. 

Moreover, the technique focuses on what the team has done well and identifies areas that require improvement. It digs deep into the challenges that the teams face and finds out how they can be overcome to ensure that the project does not suffer. Thus, continuous improvement is guaranteed.