Team retrospectives are the cornerstone of continuous improvement. At the end of every iteration or cadence period it's essential to not only review the value created by your team, but also the process and overall team health. That's the purpose of retrospectives.
A good warm-up activity before every retrospective is the Weather Report. This gives a general sense of the overall moral and temperature of each team member. Each team member assigns themselves to the card that best represents their current state of mind, based on the previous iteration. The cards range from sunny to stormy. Each team member should also elaborate on their choice.
Another retrospective is the classic Start Stop Continue. One at a time each team member enters as many cards as they like in the Start, Stop, and Continue columns. Based on the most recent iteration, these represent activities to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing for better results in the next iteration. This activity is usually time-boxed per each person to make sure everyone has equal time to speak.
After everyone has had a turn, each team member votes on cards to further discuss and generate action items based on team decisions around the highest priority cards. These action items are entered into the Action Items column, assigned owners, and stack ranked by priority.
When you're ready to mix things up and take your retrospectives to the next level, the Sailboat retrospective has proven to be a fun and powerful format. Each team member takes a turn entering cards in the columns: Wind - speeds us up, Anchor- slows us down, Rocks - risks, Island - opportunities, and Sun - team appreciations. They then have a limited amount of time to describe each card and their thinking behind it.
Same as in Start Stop Continue, after everyone has had a turn, each team member votes on cards to further discuss and generate action items.
To read more about continuous improvement, check this article.