I use the sailboat retrospective as an activity to gather information for Sprint Retrospectives, Release Retrospectives or even when I go in as a coach to find out where teams are. It is a fun way to gather opportunities, risks and problems.
I believe I may have been inspired for this retrospective by Innovation Games Speed Boat game used for Identifying features that are holding you back.
I draw a picture, you don’t have to be an artist just see below:
The idea here is that the team are on a boat. On the right hand-side is the Promised Land it is the best development environment they can imagine: an effective team who can take pride in their work, happy customers, opportunities for learning and growth (I usually get the team to create some kind of Vision for what the Promised Land looks like). However there are anchors that are holding them back, stopping them making progress towards the Promised Land (These are the problems). In front of them there be pirates, rocks and other obstacles which could stop the team/organization getting to where it needs to be or even sink the boat completely (These are the risks). There are however opportune winds, things in the organization that we can take advantage of to fill our sails and navigate a course to the Promised Land (These are the opportunities).
So ask the team:
• What are the opportune winds that will help us propel our ship to the Promised Land
• What are the anchors that are holding us back
• What are the rocks and pirates that can sink our ship (or at least do some damage)
One problem, risk, or opportunity per sticky and ask them to write clearly. I get them to do this individually so that everyone gets to contribute.
5-7 minutes to individually brainstorm
Allow time for each person to go up and place their stickies on the picture while the others listen.
You can then get them to organize/filter them however you want. Before moving onto driving out some actions.