How to drive continuous improvement with DAKI retrospective meetings

Boost your team's productivity and drive improvement with Daki retrospectives. Learn how to prepare, facilitate, and make the most of your meetings for actionable insights.

Author:Amy Duncan
Illustration representing a DAKI retrospective meeting

Let's face it, we all want to do better at work. Retrospectives are your team's golden ticket to continuous improvement, acting as both a mirror and a roadmap. They're not just about looking back; they're about strategizing for what's ahead. The Daki retrospective, in particular, empowers your team to consciously choose what to ditch and what to double down on. Think of it as your team's regular health check—but for your workflow and processes.

What is a Daki retrospective meeting? 

The Daki retrospective is broken into 4 areas:

  • Drop = highlight what needs to be discontinued to help the team progress better.
  • Add = suggest new approaches or tools that could help the team overcome challenges and enhance performance.
  • Keep = acknowledge what has been working well and should be maintained to sustain the positive momentum.
  • Improve = discuss how to better existing processes or behaviors to elevate future outcomes.

Essentially, it’s a framework designed to help you identify which features, behaviors, or activities your team should Drop, Add, Keep, or Improve. This provides a structured way for your team to evaluate its processes and align on how to improve for future projects.

DAKI retrospective meeting templates

How to prepare for a Daki retrospective meeting

Allocate time

Set aside 60 to 90 minutes; a rushed meeting won't yield quality insights. It allows for an in-depth discussion without dragging on for too long. Also, aim to schedule the retrospective as close to the completion of a project as possible, so the details are still fresh in everyone's minds.

Invite team members

Ensure that all key team members are aware of the meeting's purpose and importance. Prioritize full attendance because the effectiveness of the retrospective improves with a diversity of perspectives.

Collaborative environment

Make sure you have a collaborative digital tool like Craft, which allows team members to participate in real-time. If you’re meeting in-person, have a physical whiteboard, sticky notes, and markers at the ready.

Pre-meeting preparation

To set the stage for a productive discussion, consider sending out the agenda in advance. Encourage team members to mull over what they believe should be dropped, added, kept, or improved before the meeting. This helps everyone come to the table prepared and ready to dive into meaningful conversations.

Facilitating and running the meeting

Step 1: Setting the stage in Craft

Before diving in, familiarize your team with the DAKI framework—Drop, Add, Keep, and Improve and explain its aims and benefits. These categories will guide your discussion and help identify areas for team growth. In Craft, create a new document and add these categories as main headings (or use our DAKI retrospective template). Share the link with your team so everyone can access it in real-time.

Step 2: Generate ideas individually

Activate a timer for 5-10 minutes and ask your team to first note down their ideas privately for each DAKI heading. This provides the team with a chance to think critically before they start sharing.

Step 3: Discussion and organizing input in Craft

Now that everyone has a document full of ideas, it's time for each member of the team to take their turn to share their ideas. This exercise should stay deliberately concise and straight forward, just allowing individuals to add more context about their ideas.

Next up, organize the ideas by clustering similar suggestions together under each DAKI category.

Step 4: Vote for the most valuable ideas

Team members are then asked to leave a reaction to vote for the ideas that are most valuable to them.

Based on the priorities you've identified, list down the action items under each DAKI heading. Assign specific team members to these tasks right within the Craft document. Include details like the deadline, resources needed, and the person responsible, so everyone is clear on the next steps.

Step 5: Closing the retrospective and tracking progress

As you wrap up, summarize the main points and action items. Craft comes in handy for tracking progress as well. Create a separate section or a new page linked to your retrospective document to keep an eye on the implementation of these action items. Update this section during your next retrospective to discuss what worked and what didn't.

Tips for success in Daki retrospective meetings

1. Open communication

Fostering an atmosphere of open communication starts with establishing trust within the team. At the beginning of the retrospective, it might be beneficial to remind everyone that the goal is improvement, not blame. Reinforce that all comments should be directed at the process, tasks, or events, rather than personal attacks on individuals. This helps to cultivate a culture where people feel secure in sharing their insights and constructive criticisms. Leadership should also take the initiative to express openness to feedback, setting the tone for the rest of the team to follow. In such an environment, team members are more likely to share openly, listen attentively, and contribute effectively to the collective improvement goals.

2. Everyone gets a say

In many meetings, vocal individuals can dominate the conversation, which can stifle contributions from quieter team members. To avoid this, employ structured sharing techniques like the "round-robin." In this method, each team member gets a dedicated time slot to share their views, going around the room in a circle. Alternatively, you can use digital tools that allow for anonymous input, ensuring that ideas are weighed for their merit, not for the volume of their presentation.

3. Focus on action

Often retrospectives can turn into mere complaint sessions if not handled correctly. The focus should always be on creating actionable solutions for improvement. Use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) for this purpose. For instance, instead of saying, "We need to communicate better," aim for, "We will implement a daily 15-minute stand-up meeting to discuss each team member’s tasks for the day and any blockers they are facing, starting next week." This gives the team a concrete action plan to execute, making the retrospective more impactful.

4. Review progress

A retrospective is only as good as the changes it drives. That's why it's crucial to revisit the action items from the previous retrospective in subsequent ones. Designate the first 10-15 minutes to discuss what worked, what didn't, and why. This keeps the team accountable and provides valuable insights into how effective your retrospectives are. You can also use metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) to quantitatively assess the impact of the changes implemented. For example, if an action item was to reduce the code review time, compare the average code review time before and after the change to gauge its success.


By making retrospectives a regular practice, you're setting your team up for consistent growth and investing in a culture that adapts and improves. Combine the DAKI retrospective with other retrospectives to unlock the potential of your team and pave the way for continuous incremental improvement.

Other retrospective templates