Retrospectives series: le Tour de France

This is the first of a series of articles we will be posting in our blog about retrospectives formats, tips and advices. We will start with one based in “le tour de France”.

Here is a link to the second of the series.

This retrospective is specially created to gather data at the middle of a project or any long period of time, when teams have already reached some of the goals they had and still have to fight for new challenges. It’s also a valid format for a post mortem if you only use the elements related to the past. This retrospective was created and facilitated by myself with the management team at Studio 1.

The activities described in this retrospective can be performed in 60-120 minutes, requiring longer time for large groups. Since it is a retrospective for long periods, you might require up to 120 minutes depending on the group size and the time period.

With this retrospective format, the facilitator will guide the team through a metaphor with a cycling sports team.

Depending on how you decide to set the stage you will have to work more or less. Apart from that, you will need post-its, without any special attention to their colors.


The facilitator creates a stage linking the project that has just been finished with “le Tour de France”. For a retrospective after a project milestone, the facilitator can explain that the situation is similar to the end of an important lap in the cyclist race. The facilitator must use any visual or auditive channel to help the team jump into the metaphore. Screens with videos, sounds, music, atrezzo… anything you can think of. The goal is to help the team jump into that scenario.

After creating the introduction, in order to help the team jumping into their memories, you can ask every participant about their physical state at the end of the lap we have just finished. A quick verbal answer per person should be enough to understand everybody’s mood. With this easy exercise you have prepared them to navigate into the metaphor, although any other thing that helps them start remembering is perfectly fine.

In the first part of the retrospective, the facilitator helps the team to navigate through the last times, asking them the next questions:

– What were the injuries and accidents the team had? These represent the problems we’ve had.
– What were the highest peaks we reached? These represent the challenges we’ve had.
– What were the prizes we have been rewarded? These are the recognitions the team has to do to their members.

There must be a physical space where the team members can put their post-its with the information required by the facilitator. Please, remember the visual and auditive channels!

The second part of the retrospective is focused in the near future. Now, looking at the rest of the race…
– What are the hardest peaks we have to reach? These are the challenges we are going to face.
– What are the supplies we need to win the race? These represent the team’s needs for the near future.
– What are we fighting for? What is that price we will get when we succeed? This is the main driver the facilitator needs to point out when problems arise during the conversation helping the different people to align.

In this stage the facilitator needs to decide where to invest the rest of the time. Ideally the focus should be the future, however the team might need more ventilation or discuss in depth the past. Therefore, you can use any kind of team prioritization ( dot voting? ) to choose what of the many topics raised they want to work on. Any Root Cause Analysis process might be useful when discussing on the injuries/accidents.

The team should take actions to prevent the accidents happening again and decide what supplies they are going to prepare for the rest of the race.

Retrospectives series: le Tour de France

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