Want to run a retrospective but short on time? Here’s how to run a quick retrospective

Want to run a retrospective but short on time? Here’s how to run a quick retrospective

Almost everything in the modern world is fast-paced: fast food, fast fashion, and a neverending stream of Fast & Furious movies. It only makes sense that you and your team have a fast option when it comes to conducting a retrospective on your sprints — they are called sprints after all.

Whether your team is just experimenting with starting retrospectives or you truly don’t have time in all your tight deadlines to all sit down together for half an hour to an hour, we’ve got the perfect retrospective for you: the aptly named quick retrospective.

Find our convenient quick retrospective template in Cacoo to get started with your own run-through.

How to keep it quick

The Quick Retrospective may not look too different from other retrospectives like Mad Sad Glad, Keep Problem Try, Start Stop Continue, and especially the 4Ls Retrospective. But, we can assure you, with this one, it’s all in the timing.

While other retrospectives may range between five to fifteen minutes (or unlimited time if you have it to spare and hit a good talking point), it is essential that each point made during this meeting is less than a minute long.

Send out directions (or this blog) to team members to know what to expect along with the template you’ll be using. They should come to the retrospective meeting with exactly one idea to place in each category.

The meeting can either be held in-person in a boardroom where you have a whiteboard or a screen to share your Cacoo template or online, where all members can log in and edit the template together in real-time. Allowing team members to fill out and add their stickies to the template ahead of time can save you even more time as a full team if you’re really in a crunch.

What was good?

When you have everyone gathered, they should already know the drill and have each of their four ideas ready to go. Start with the ‘What was good?’ category. Go around to every team member and allow them to share one thing that went off without a hitch in your most recent sprint. Each person can talk for one minute maximum. Make sure to be strict in holding to this rule.

Once everyone has shared, you will see a list of things not to be touched in your next iteration. Maybe you even see a pattern of people listing this same thing. This only reinforces that that particular aspect went well and hopefully doesn’t signify that only one aspect of the project went well.

What was bad?

Just like the last step, everyone gets up to one minute to share one thing that they think went badly in your last sprint. If they had a list of things, this is where prioritization comes into play. Everyone must choose the ONE thing that they think needs to be improved — if that improvement is made in the upcoming iteration, they can always suggest another idea for the following sprint.

When everyone has had their chance to add to the list of bad aspects of the project, you can move on to working to solve these issues.


Take a look at the list of issues from the previous step. If you have a larger team and need to slim down the list, you can conduct a quick vote here where every team member gets to choose their top three issues. After voting has ended, you can eliminate the lesser voted on issues to deal with a shorter list (feel free to leave the list as long or short as you think you can hand for the next sprint).

Next, either leaving team members to think by themselves or put them in pairs or small teams, give them five to ten minutes to brainstorm ideas that could help to solve these issues. That can include getting to the bottom of what may be causing the issue, or coming up with some actionable items that could serve to improve the process next time around.

When time is up, have them share their ideas and add them to the list under the ‘Ideas’ category. Again, depending on how long or short this list ends up being, you can conduct another vote to choose which ideas seem like they are worth testing before moving on.


The final step builds on the previous step again. Looking at the ideas that the team put forth, create a direct action the team or an individual can perform in the next iteration to solve the problem in the ‘Bad’ category.

Make sure that the action has a specific assignee so it does get forgotten when the work actually starts happening and tight deadlines start coming at you.

As the project manager, take notes on the meeting and send them out after the meeting is over and track how each new action is working to solve the proposed problems. These will be worth touching upon at the beginning of your next retrospective.

Aaaaaaaaaand… that’s it! Just as quickly as promised!

Final thoughts

While the Quick Retrospective is straightforward and easy to conduct, as you get further into a project and more used to conducting retrospectives as a team, it’ll probably be worth finding a more in-depth method that works well for your team. This could be any of the ones mentioned above or ever the Starfish Retrospective.

Fortunately, Cacoo offers a variety of retrospective templates to experiment with and find which one is the best fit for your team.

We have full confidence that once you’ve gotten started taking this look back at your sprints, you’ll find ways to be constantly improving and speeding up the process. There’ll be no need to look back!

Lauren Grabau Lauren Grabau is a globetrotting copywriter providing SEO web content, puns, and a keen eye for spelling wherever she can. She's probably currently planning her next trip or lost on a long walk.