Do You Know How To Use Journey Lines In Your Retrospectives

by Luís Gonçalves
journey lines


Hi, my next iteration retrospective is coming.

Since I ran out of good ideas for the retrospective I decided to get advice from my “Sensei”; he is a cool guy always ready to help us when we need. Below you can see the conversation between us.

Luis: Good morning Sensei, do you have time?

Sensei: Sure how can I help you?

Luis: You know our next Iteration is almost over, and I am thinking about good exercises for our retrospective. I am wondering if you could help me.

Sensei: Sure, but before we start can you please tell me how the iteration went? I would like to understand what did happen during the iteration so that I can give you better ideas.

Luis: Sure. This iteration was a bit complicated; there were a lot of things happening, a lot of different emotions I could almost compare it with a Roller Coaster.

Sensei: Hmmm I see… And what kind of exercise you think would suit to this retrospective?

Luis: Like I said, it was almost comparable to a Roller Coaster, so I believe something that would capture what happened during the iteration… I don’t know maybe some simple way to visualise the energy during the iteration…

I think everyone would benefit if they could see and understand how others felt with all those changes. I believe it is good to show our strengths and weaknesses to others; it shows to others that we are rational human beings like them.

Sensei: Good, see it seems you have a lot of info there… What kind of exercises did you think on your own?

Luis: I thought about several ones, but to be honest I think none of them would capture the essence of what I am looking for…

Sensei: I see one that could be quite useful, but I do not want to give you the straight answer… Let´s think a bit together. I do remember about a specific kickoff that you had some months ago. I remember that you did an exercise that fits all of that, didn’t you?

Luis: Hummmmm is you talking about the “Journey Line”? But that exercise is used for kick off not for a retrospective…
Sensei: Well what would be the worse thing that could happen if you try to adapt the exercise for a retrospective?

Luis: Well I think the worse that can happen is to have a weak retrospective, but I can always see it as a positive experience and learn what did it go wrong and change it for the next time… One of the Agile values is courage so I guess trying this would support this value.

Sensei: Good approach. So what will you change to be a good exercise for the retrospective?

Luis: Well the first activity is typically used in Kickoff meetings, it’s a good way to show others a bit about ourselves. Each one of us draws a line since we got born until today, showing the positive and the negative times of our life, like is shown here:

journey lines
Taken from “Coaching Agile Teams WorkShop by Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayed

Sensei: Yes, I do agree but what are the changes that you will do to be a good exercise for a retrospective?

Luis: Hum I am thinking maybe instead of mapping our life, perhaps mapping our emotions/happenings during the iteration. How about?

Sensei: Sounds good, but on the kickoff meeting the exercise was more for an educational purpose, retrospectives should have an outcome. Retrospectives should terminate with a list of improvements. What are you planning to do about it?

Luis: That is an excellent point… Humm, let me think a bit about this over coffee. I will come back soon.

(After 10m)
Luis: Ok, I guess I got some ideas.
Sensei: Tell me about them.

Luis: I have a theory that I need to test… But let’s start from here; all team members will draw their lines, I am almost sure that some of the lines will “hit” in some common events. It will be easy to see it. After that, I can ask the team members to vote the top biggest problem that affected most the iteration. After we identify the problem, we can do a reasonable exercise to find out how can we improve it in the future. What do you think?

Sensei: Well it seems that you found an exercise for your next retrospective :). Let me know how it went. Remember even if the outcome of your experience is not perfect, there is no problem, learn from it and improve it next time. Learning is the key action.


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Luís Gonçalves

About Luís Gonçalves

Luis Gonçalves is an Entrepreneur, Author & International Keynote Speaker that works exclusively with Senior Executives of 7 to 8 figure businesses on the deployment of his game changing ‘Organisational Mastery’ Methodology.


Share your point of view

  1. Making a time line based upon emotions and the feeling of the team can indeed be very useful. It helps to discuss how the team members experienced their collaboration, and to see when things weren’t going well, and when there was a feeling of flow. And to discuss the underlying reasons, which provides great learnings for the next sprints!

    I’ve collected several ways that you can do a retrospective into a blog post:

    But now I’m curious: How did the retrospective go?

    1. Hi Ben,

      Unfortunately at this moment I cannot try this out since currently I don’t have a team on my own, I had this idea and I wanted to share it with all of you :).

      I think its a good practice if you have an idea to put it on a paper to not forget so that you can try it later :).

      Since I cannot try it I would be really happy if someone would try it out and would give me some feedback 🙂

      Are you eager to try it out Ben?


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