Scrum Tools

How to Do a Retrospective for 2020

December 14, 2020

2019 was a doozy for most of us. That’s why this year more than ever it’s important to do some personal and professional retrospectives.


get ready to do a retrospective

Before you read further, go ahead and grab paper or Post-It Notes, and a pen. This is an interactive blog post! 

When starting a retro, we use the STOP acronym—Stop, Take a breath, Observe what happened in 2020, and Plan for 2021. It’s easy to remember and follow.


It’s important to carve out time in the middle of your chaos to sit down for a few minutes to do a retrospective. It may seem counterintuitive to pause your work when you’re busy, but this will help you inspect, adapt, and move forward more productively. You can do this monthly, weekly, or daily.

Take a breath

Consider your surroundings as you’re doing a retrospective. Are you somewhere where you can focus effectively?  Things like location, sound, smells can all positively or negatively impact your mood, and therefore your retro. Kate Megaw, Braintrust President, loves to complete her retros inside her car parked at her local arboretum or on the beach!

Observe what happened in 2020

There are many ways to do an effective observation. You can use the traditional sprint retrospective where you go over what went well, what didn’t go well, and what you’d do differently. 

A method we have been using in 2020 is the 3 Ps—Progress is your accomplishments and finished items. What have you done this year? Plans are your goals and objectives for the next reporting period. What are you going to do next? Problems are items you can’t finish. Problems are often when you need help from others.

Plan for 2021

Planning for an entire year all at once can seem daunting, so we break it down. Create a one-year plan with some key objectives, and then break that down into some 90-day Rocks goals that will help achieve those objectives. You can read more about what a Rock is here.

What else can I do?

Get an accountability partner—You need to have an accountability partner to help keep you on target with your goals. Ideally this is a with a colleague, partner, or friend, but in a pinch you can sit down weekly and answer these questions: my most important goal for this week is, what I accomplished last week, an opportunity I have this week is, what I’ve learned within the past week, and what I’m grateful for now.

Do the Onion Exercise with your team—The Onion Exercise is great for teams to examine and redistribute tasks. Draw three circles inside one another, labeling the center circle love, the middle circle don’t mind, and the outer circle don’t like. Fill out the circles with your usual tasks, then sit with your team and compare Onions. You may find that something you dislike is something your team member loves, and you can delegate accordingly! 


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