Hot Air Balloon Retrospective Model

Are you using any metaphor in your Retrospective meetings?

Using Metaphors in our conversations can help us to understand an object, conversation or action from a different perspective. They can also serve as a powerful tool leading us to think in new or a different way.

In this post, I will explain how to use the Hot Air Balloon model to use in a Sprint Retrospective event.

Hot Air Ballon

As a Retrospective Facilitator, draw the above diagram and explain, “Just imagine for a while that we as a team are in the Hot Air Balloon to enjoy the beautiful city landscape on a sunny day. “What will happen If there is too much weight attached to the basket?” <Team thoughts> Yes, the balloon won’t lift up enough to avoid the trees and low terrain. “What do you think about a good burner and ballon size?” <Team thoughts> Right, So in nutshell, we need to cut down unnecessary burdens, have a good burner and balloon size to lift up in the sky to make our journey across the tree and hills. Brilliant, let’s see how it relates to us!

Similarly, we are gathered today, took a pause from our regular work to inspect what things are going well and that’s our team burner and team spirit balloon size. What is not going well is the unnecessary burdens we can get rid of to continue to enjoy working together, having fun and achieving our goals. If we don’t do this then we might end up in the same routine and practices, and might miss the opportunity to challenge us and achieve more.  In this session, I appreciate everyone being open to sharing and let’s agree that no idea is a bad idea” + add your own version.

During the retrospective, we focus on three aspects of the metaphor and brainstorm regards to people, product, relationships, process, and tools.

  • What is keeping us up?

During the Sprint what worked well with regards to people, product, relationships, process, and tools?

  • What is keeping us down?

During the Sprint what didn’t work well with regards to people, product, relationships, process, and tools?

  • What are our Risks or Concerns?

What Risks or Concerns team would like to highlight with regards to people, product, relationships, process, and tools?

Facilitation guide

Note: Time might vary based on team size and conversations generated during the meeting. I would suggest keeping 10-15 mins in the buffer and better to leave early than rushing up.

  1. Check-in with an ice breaker to generate energy in the room and everyone feels relaxed and comfortable to share (5 mins)
  2. Draw the sketch, explain the hot air balloon model and how it can help the brain to think from different aspects (5 mins)
  3. Silent activity to write on (sticky) notes for three aspects, it could be an individual or in pairs, use legends for notes to track afterward (7+3 mins)
  4. Team members, in turn, put the notes in the respective area and explain in brief, encourage the rest of the team to ask clarifying questions and if they have similar thoughts to add. (15+5 mins)
  5. Team to group similar notes in the respective area and generate some insights, do acknowledgment of good teamwork, ask exploratory questions and share your own reflections. (5 mins)
  6. Identify one or two key improvement areas in “Keeping us down” and “Risks/Concerns” by doing silent dot voting or any other preferred method (5 mins)
  7. Team to create a plan for the selected improvement area(s), decide to set up follow up meetings, owners and any stakeholder to inform (10 mins)
  8.  Check-out with a quick mini-retrospective of the retrospective (by doing the fist of five) (3 mins)

If you have any comments, please don’t forget to share. Try this model in your next Sprint Retrospective event and share your experience.

Good luck!

2 thoughts on “Hot Air Balloon Retrospective Model

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