5 retrospective templates to supercharge your team collaboration

Discover 5 top retrospective templates that can transform the way your team collaborates.

Craft Author: Tom Norman
Tom Norman

Whether developing a product, pursuing a goal, or organizing a project, the best lessons come through a process of doing, reflecting, and improving. By taking action, even if it’s imperfect, you can at least gain experience and data that can be improved upon.

Retrospectives are a great example of how to put this mindset into action. These meetings are typically held by project teams at the end of every project or sprint to reflect on what happened, what worked, and what didn't. It's an opportunity for entire teams to pause, reflect, and glean valuable insights to improve future sprints. Although their background is in project management, the value of sprints can empower teams from any industry to collaborate better.

Why are retrospectives so important?

Retrospectives bring with them a host of benefits that significantly enhance team collaboration and overall project success.

Firstly, they encourage continuous improvement within the team. By reflecting on past sprints and creating a routine of identifying areas to improve, it ensures that as a team you work a little bit better on every project. Like compound interest, these incremental improvements can lead to exponential progress over time.

Not only that, by providing a dedicated space to share thoughts and experiences, everyone gets a better understanding of each other's perspectives. This open communication about achievements, challenges, and improvements helps to empower team trust and enhances collaboration.

Using themed retrospectives with your team

Incorporating themed retrospectives, like the ones we’re exploring in this post, adds an element of diversity to the process. Themes can make retrospectives more engaging and inspire different ways of thinking, therefore encouraging teams to view their work from fresh angles. This added variety can lead to deeper insights, more nuanced conversations, and ultimately, stronger team collaboration.

5 retrospectives you should try with your team:

1. Start, stop, continue

Start stop continue retrospective template in Craft
Template for the Start Stop Continue retrospective (sometimes called SSC retrospective)

The 'Start, Stop, Continue' retro encourages teams to think about actions under three categories: things to start doing, things to stop doing, and things to continue doing. This simple exercise provides a clear framework for teams to self-evaluate their progress and work culture, helping them pinpoint areas for improvement and celebrate successes.

An example of how this might look in practice for a product team:


  • Start having weekly brainstorming sessions to foster innovation and creative problem-solving.
  • Start implementing agile methodologies to enhance efficiency and adaptability to change.


  • Stop over-reliance on individual team members for specific tasks. Promote cross-functionality to avoid bottlenecks and increase resilience.
  • Stop delaying quality assurance until the end of the development cycle. Instead, integrate QA at every stage.


  • Continue regular team check-ins and updates for sharing insights, progress, and challenges.
  • Continue fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.

2. Sailboat retrospective

Sailboat retrospective template built using Craft
Sailboat retrospective template

The 'Sailboat' retrospective is a creative visual technique where the team's project is represented as a boat. The wind represents the things pushing the project forward, while the anchors represent the things holding it back. The rocks ahead symbolize potential risks or obstacles. The sailboat metaphor stimulates interesting conversations about the project’s direction, helping teams identify obstacles and adjust the course as necessary.

An example of a Sailboat retrospective for a marketing team:

Wind (Positive forces)

  • Skilled team members who are adept at social media marketing and content creation.
  • Positive brand reputation that has been built over time.

Anchor (Negative forces)

  • Limited budget that restricts advertising reach and frequency.
  • Inconsistent or slow inter-departmental communication.

Rocks (Risks or obstacles)

  • Competitors are also increasing their advertising efforts, which might overshadow ours.
  • The target audience might not be receptive to our brand on the new social media platforms.

3. 4Ls retrospective

4Ls retrospective template in Craft
4Ls retrospective template in Craft: Liked, Learned, Lacked, Longed For

The '4Ls' stands for Liked, Learned, Lacked, and Longed For. As the name suggests, this retrospective template prompts team members to share what they liked during the sprint, what they learned, what they lacked, and what they longed for. It provides an open and honest platform for the team to express their thoughts and feelings, fostering a culture of transparency and continual learning.

A startup might use the 4Ls retrospective as follows:


  • The team enjoyed the open and creative culture, allowing everyone to contribute ideas.
  • They liked the flexibility in working hours and remote work options which led to increased productivity.


  • They learned about the importance of customer feedback in shaping their product and services.
  • They understood the value of clear and transparent communication within the team.


  • They lacked a structured process for prioritizing tasks, which sometimes led to confusion and missed deadlines.
  • The team members felt they lacked enough knowledge about competitors and market trends.

Longed for

  • They longed for more structured professional development opportunities to grow their skills.
  • The team members wished for regular and structured feedback on their performance.

4. Mad, sad, glad

Mad sad glad template on Craft
Mad sad glad retrospective template

The 'Mad, Sad, Glad' retro is a simple way for teams to express their emotions related to the project. By categorizing their emotions into 'Mad', 'Sad', or 'Glad', team members can better understand their emotional responses, leading to increased empathy and stronger team bonds. Remember, every emotion has a backstory, and understanding this can help improve the work environment and productivity.

For an engineering team, the Mad, sad, glad retrospective might look as follows:


  • The team is frustrated with the late delivery of requirements from the product team, leading to rushed work or delays.
  • Some members express anger about the infrequent code review process, which sometimes leads to technical debt and increased bugs.


  • The team is saddened by the lack of recognition for their hard work when product launches are successful, feeling the credit often goes to other departments.
  • They're disheartened by the fact that some members are regularly overworked while others seem underutilized.


  • The team is happy with the collaborative and supportive culture within the team, where everyone is willing to help each other out.
  • They appreciate the flexible work hours and the opportunity to work remotely, which promotes work-life balance.

5. Starfish retrospective

Starfish Retrospective template in Craft
Starfish retrospective template

The 'Starfish' retrospective invites team members to explore five areas: Start Doing, Keep Doing, Stop Doing, Do Less Of, and Do More Of. It's a comprehensive way to solicit feedback on a wider range of areas, making it a great fit for teams looking for a deep-dive analysis. Just like a starfish, this retrospective provides a full 360-degree view of team performance and areas for improvement.

Here's an idea of what the starfish retrospective might look like for a leadership team:

Keep doing

  • Continue promoting a transparent and open communication culture.
  • Maintain regular strategy review and adjustment sessions.

Less of

  • Decrease the reliance on lengthy email threads for communication, which can be time-consuming and inefficient.
  • Less micro-management and more empowerment to lower-level managers and teams.

More of

  • Increase the use of data and analytics to guide decision-making and strategy formulation.
  • Invest more in employee professional development and training programs.

Stop doing

  • Stop delaying difficult decisions, which can create uncertainty and hinder progress.
  • Stop changing strategic goals frequently without a justified reason, as it confuses teams and disrupts workflow.

Start doing

  • Start setting up a structured succession planning process to ensure leadership continuity.
  • Begin a formal process for recognizing and rewarding exceptional performance across all levels of the company.

The key to organizing a successful retrospective is the ability to create an open and trusting environment. Unless team members feel safe to express themselves honestly, retrospectives will be limited in their effectiveness, and could even become a negative experience for the team. To prevent this, it's imperative to set the right expectations for the retrospective. These meetings are not about passing blame or finding faults, they're for empowering valuable conversations about how to improve as a team for future sprints. If you want to discover more about how to organize powerful retrospectives for your team, make sure you check out our detailed guide.

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