Yet another retrospective idea: Successes, Frustrations and Opportunities

During a training I was teaching recently we were talking about retrospectives and different ways to make them interesting. Afterwards one of the students came forward and suggested something interesting.

My co-teacher had described the classical what went good, what could have been better and what should we start doing example and it is one of those I personally don't like as it focuses too much on solutions early on in the retrospective. Personally I like to keep my retrospectives open for as long as possible before going into details on action plans.

Anyway, what happened during the training was that my co-trainer said that the could have been better tends to be frustrations within the team and it was this thing that gave one of the students an idea. Why not call the three columns; Successes, Frustrations and Opportunities.

I immediately fell in love with the idea. The reason is that successes is just an observation of things that the team and individuals considered successes. Awesome. Frustrations then captures things where the team doesn't necessarily know what to do to fix them but still it is clear what type of things you want to talk about here. Last but not least; opportunities can be viewed as observations on things the team could improve on.

Naturally opportunities can also encourage you to put action items up from the start but it is not needed. The difference between frustrations and opportunities is really that opportunities is something the team (or at least part of the team) already see as something they can act on while frustrations are more unclear in what you can do about them. This is also why it is important to address the reasons for frustration too...

So with this variant of retrospectives I can still let teams who want to bring up potential actions early do so while I make sure to gather the important frustrations. What do you think about Successes-Frustrations-Opportunities?


  1. Sounds like a variant of the SWOT analysis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis

    1. Yes I guess you could say that it is a variant of SWOT analysis, and a much needed variant as I would never use something like SWOT for a team retrospective. "Weaknesses" and "Threats" are "bad" words I don't want my team to think about...