The ‘Triumph, Troubled, Thinking’ retrospective is a simple template that allows you, as the Scrum Master, to facilitate a deep-dive into topics that you have observed which may need further attention.
Whether your team is struggling with processes, tools, or external dependencies, this retrospective will shine a light on what is currently a triumph, what is troubling your team, and what ideas they are thinking about as possible ways to improve.
- Whiteboard and markers.
- Post-it notes & sharpie pens.
- Alternatively, if facilitating remotely, an online digital canvas such as Mural or Miro.
- On your workspace, create an X/Y graph with the words ‘Triumph’, ‘Troubled’, and ‘Thinking’ along the ‘Y’ axis and your chosen topics for discussion along the ‘X’ axis (see picture below).
When I last facilitated this exercise, the ‘X’ axis contained each of the Scrum events but you can shape this template around what your team needs. Some examples might include:
- Methods of communication (e.g. Slack, Skype, Teams, phone, email, etc.).
- Tools (e.g. JIRA, Trello, Jenkins, Git, etc.).
- The Scrum values.
- The Agile values.
- Classes of service (e.g. Expedite, Fixed Delivery Date, Standard, Intangible, etc.).
- Critical collaborations: either other teams and/or individual stakeholders.
- You may also choose to leave space for ‘any other business’ which you can explore if necessary.
- Once your workspace is ready, encourage team members to write on post-its anything that has been a ‘triumph’ during the last Sprint or iteration then add these to the relevant section on the board.
Repeat this process for ‘troubled’ and ‘thinking’, allowing around 5 – 10 minutes for each section.
- Once the team have covered all three sections, you can begin to identify key themes that emerge.
As you walk through the board encourage discussion and ensure all team members have an opportunity to contribute. Items in ‘triumph’ give a chance to recognise great work and share positive feedback and may connect to some of the ‘thinking’ ideas. Items in ‘troubled’ might bring out more challenging themes that may require a greater level of discussion.
Make sure you search for any correlation between ‘troubled’ and ‘thinking’ which could help lead your team to valuable takeaways or actions for future improvement.
- Finally, you can draw some conclusions from the discussions and encourage the team towards actions to progress in future Sprints or iterations.
In order to do this you may want to draw upon some challenging questions to help your team gain clarity on their situation:
“What will you do with this information to improve next time?”
Hold the mirror up to your team and help them own their actions.
“What will take us to the next level of success?”
Encourage your team to think about their progression to becoming a more effective team.
“Can you think of a mechanism to hold yourselves accountable?”
Ask what the measures for success will be and what the team will need to do to ensure they follow up on their commitments.
Having a simple and flexible template for your retrospectives can be vital to help your team surface challenges, share and celebrate successes, and seek actions for progression.
Sometimes your team may need to focus on something specific, especially if there has been a recurring theme in previous retrospectives. ‘Triumph, Troubled, Thinking’ offers a framework that can support the exploration of key themes in a structured way.
What topics for discussion would you bring to this template to explore with your own team? Give it a go and let us know what you discovered!