Thursday, February 14, 2019

The 5-minute Retrospective: Try Speedrospectives!

Agility depends on receiving timely feedback and turning it into effective change action. Relentless improvement requires closing feedback cycles wherever possible and whenever possible. 

Why Speedrospectives?

Many new Scrum Masters follow the boring, time-consuming and ineffective "What went well/what didn't go so well" template and can burn hours of precious team time without causing significant change - this model often degrades to a platform for self-adulation and/or ranting.

The Scrum Master -- or any agile coach, for that matter -- should create a self-perpetuating system of Kaizen, "Striving for the better", and do this in the most effective way.

Have you considered a Retrospective after every single meeting in your organization, to improve these meetings themselves and thereby increase the value of communication? How much time should that consume to be worthwhile?
A regular Retrospective is unfeasible in this context - but where, when and how do you address improvement potential then?

An important part of behavioural change is to address the situation as it occurs so that the memory is still fresh and set the stage for a future, more desirable condition.

The 5-minute Retrospective

When you know your audience and the situation is already stable, there's no need to go through the (definitely helpful) 5-stage Retrospective Process, you can just cut straight to the heart of the matter: What should be different next time in order to get more value?

And that's where my handy Speedrospective template comes into play:

The diagram itself is self-explanatory:
"If we do this again, the next time, we should ..."

  • Try: Introduce a new element or modify an existing element. For example, in a Retrospective, it could be: "Try whiteboards instead of sketching on letter-sized paper"
  • Stop: Elements which should not be repeated. For example: "Multiple people talking"
  • More: Elements which are helpful and could use strengthening. For example: "Collaboration on issues"
  • Less:  Elements which, although helpful, are overdosed. For example: "Process explanation".

Schedule of the Speedrospective

Create sketch

If you're fast (which is what this is about), you draw an X and write 4 words. That should just take half a minute - or a minute, while you're explaining what's coming. (1min)

Collect items

Take 2 minutes to collect feedback - more time isn't needed, because if participants don't have anything on their mind, it's probably not important, anyways - and next time around they might prepare a sticky right in the moment when something happens because they know they can bring it up. (2min)


After issues are collected, vote ONE the group would like to see implemented. (1min)


Agree how to make it happen and thank the group. (1min)


Speedrospectives are a highly effective tool to close feedback loops, initiate change and establish a culture of relentless improvement. The process is significantly more powerful than the "well/not well" template, because it's fully outcome focused.

Other uses

The suggested Speedrospective template can be used in many contexts, such as event closure - as well as in personal and organizational coaching.


There are many ways to commence a change-driving Retrospective within 5 minutes. The above approach is neither to be considered prescriptive nor the only way. Try experimenting with Speedrospectives and see what works for you.

A note of caution

Speedrospectives may miss fundamental change opportunities - for example, when we're having the daily frontend architecture status meeting, we will find ways of getting the most value out of this meeting without ever crossing the idea that the meeting itself isn't a good idea. They are not a panacea, just a simple power tool to support a continuous change mindset.

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