The Retrospective: A Personal Review Template

Sam Tackeff
9 min readJan 18, 2022

Welcome, dear reader! Fair warning: I’ll get into the weeds, but that’s so often the good stuff! This is my download after more than a decade with this process in practice. I’m always looking to shape and tweak this process as time goes by. If you have your own methods, I’d love to hear about them!

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

In the mid 2000’s, I made my way into tech in San Francisco, where I dove into agile methodologies, and learned first hand the power of the Retrospective, a (mindful) practice held on a regular cadence, focused on looking back and learn from the past few weeks of work.

Somehow, thousands of engineers and analytical brains had latched onto a process that at the core felt deeply creative. I was fascinated to see how well it worked in the workplace to achieve a number of things: including reflection, celebration, healthy evaluation.

In a retro, we ask two questions at the end of a work sprint in a retro:

🏆 What worked well? and 🤔 What could we improve?

I like a third optional question: ⛔️ What should we stop doing? (My version of the “No List”.)

The Retro becomes a regular part of workflow. There’s a predictable cadence that makes it easily repeatable (and non-negotiable). It allows you to learn from your work, and pause to appreciate what is working. It also creates a healthy container to provide feedback, learn from your wins, learn from your failure, and practice gratitude. In a world full of useless meetings, I find that in almost every workplace I’ve been, it’s been the highlight of everyone’s week.

But the real wins? When you translate this process into your daily life.

Over the years I’ve become a champion of the personal retrospective, one of the core activities of my life operating system.

In addition to supporting my general organization, it’s a key part of supporting my mental health — reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression – and it’s a simple container for thought work.

The retro is the one simple and flexible process that helps me most in my day to day life.

📆 The Timing:

Sam Tackeff

Co-Founder, Ompractice. Wellness + Productivity. Culinary Adventurer. Previously: Runkeeper / Square / Omnivore Books. Exeter//Wellesley