Even the most successful and seemingly perfect projects always have room for improvement. This is why a team needs to sit down after completing a project and use the sailboat retrospective template to reflect on how it went and figure out what to do better the next time.

What is a sailboat retrospective?


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This is one of several techniques teams use to evaluate a completed project, particularly one that has just been finished. Its name was inspired by a sailboat moving toward its destination, much like a team working on a project and moving toward the ultimate goal.

A sailboat retrospective template typically consists of five parts that represent the elements of a project and are interestingly named after sailing components:

  • The sailboat itself represents the team.
  • The lighthouse to which the sailboat was headed represents the team's primary goal.
  • The winds are all the factors propelling the team toward the goal.
  • Conversely, the anchors are the factors that slowed progress or pulled the team back.
  • The rocks are hazards the team might have encountered while working on the project.

Benefits of using a sailboat retrospective template

The sailboat retrospective template takes the usual project retrospective. It makes it a more interesting and, therefore, more effective tool for identifying the weak and strong points of a completed undertaking.

So many benefits can be experienced from a sailboat retrospective, starting with the safe and transparent environment that it provides, allowing team members to share their feedback without inhibitions. It also presents an ideal opportunity for building team camaraderie and spirit. The project might be over, but the same team will be working on many other projects in the future, and it is better if they become a more cohesive unit.

Also, the sailboat retrospective template allows teams to make several improvements for future endeavors, like setting more realistic goals, building better project implementation strategies, eliminating obstacles previously encountered, and building on the strong areas that worked very well.

When to use a sailboat retrospective template?

The sailboat retrospective template is extremely versatile and can be used for just about any kind of project. Not only that, there are also many instances where a team would find it helpful to use the template.

For instance, you can use it within a team meeting. This template is great for sharing information with the team and getting feedback. It is also a good idea to use a sailboat retrospective to get a stalled project going again or to get stakeholders updated on the project's latest progress.

However, the most common use of a sailboat retrospective is immediately after the completion of a project. In contrast, the highlights of the project, the challenges, and the entire process are still fresh in the team members' minds. This is the best time for a reflection that would be most helpful for ensuring the success of future projects.

Sailboat Retrospective Examples

Sailboat Retrospective Example – App Development

We begin our sailboat retrospective examples with one that an app development team might find useful. In this example, the team examines all the elements that make their project move forward, as well as all the potential risks.


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  • The Sailboat – the app development team.
  • The Lighthouse– launch the app in 1 month; get numerous pre-registered users for the app.
  • The Rocks – the competitor app has added a feature that might outshine our app.
  • The Wind or the Sails – the marketing team’s strategy is raising the public’s hype;the new UI has got great feedback.
  • The Anchors – beta users have spotted bugs; code reviewing takes longer than expected; AI gives unpredictable answers.
  • The Sun – communication between remote members is effective.

Sailboat Retrospective Example – Marketing

In the following example, we will take a look at a sailboat retrospective template used by a marketing team. In this case, the team wants to increase the sales of a particular product.


  • The Sailboat – the brand’s marketing team.
  • The Lighthouse– increased sales by 10% in the following month.
  • The Rocks – brand awareness is low; competitors have a similar product.
  • The Wind or the Sails – popular influencers have agreed to promote the product; the product hashtag is getting more views on social media.
  • The Anchors – ad targeting is ineffective; the management has reduced the marketing budget.
  • The Sun – new team members feel welcome; the product’s reviews are positive.

Sailboat Retrospective Example – Online Sales

In the following sailboat retrospective we are going to see, we are taking a look at an example from a retail store that wants to boost its online sales. In essence, this is another sailboat retro that a marketing team might use.


  • The Sailboat – the store’s marketing team.
  • The Lighthouse– increase online sales by 20% by the end of the year; increase the store’s mailing list.
  • The Rocks – competitors offer similar discounts; our products aren’t unique.
  • The Wind or the Sails – our blog posts are getting traffic; our client loyalty program offers incentives to shop online.
  • The Anchors – e-shop is still in development.
  • The Sun – the percentage of return customers has increased.

Sailboat Retrospective Example – Product Design

The next sailboat retrospective example comes from a design team that aims to create new product packaging. In this case, the team members are collaborating to create a design for a physical item.


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  • The Sailboat – the design team.
  • The Lighthouse– create a packaging that attracts clients.
  • The Rocks – the new packaging might not correspond to the public’s mental image of the product; the new packaging might not be accessible to everyone; the packaging’s material might turn off eco-conscious customers.
  • The Wind or the Sails – our packaging suggestion is within the brand’s budgetary limits; the labeling has received good feedback from testers.
  • The Anchors – the main designer is away on sick leave.

How to use the sailboat retrospective template in Boardmix?

The easiest way to do a sailboat retrospective with your team is to follow a reliable sailboat retrospective template. This way, you will have a structure to follow instead of groping unthinkingly while trying to focus on the actual evaluation of your project. Boardmix has an excellent template that you can use for a wide range of activities.

Step 1 – Go to your Boardmix workspace and click the Templates button. There, you will find the ready-made template for a sailboat retro.


Step 2 – Share the graph you have created with your team members.


Step 3 – Once they have all accessed the sailboat retrospective, Boardmix allows you to have an online meeting. Namely, you can have a video meeting or enable the chat.


Step 4 – Then, each member can contribute to the sailboat retro. Every member can add sticky notes with their thoughts and every participant will see the changes in real time.

To begin, you must open the template, where four of the five components are arranged in columns, starting with the wind or sails, followed by the anchors, the rocks, and the shore. Invite team members, and once they have joined, they will take turns filling out the columns based on their project evaluation.


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Step 5 – Finally, once the sailboat retrospective is complete, you can save it in various file formats or create an immersive presentation. This will help you present the graph to the management or stakeholders in a professional way. If you want to complete everything online, you can share it simply via a link.


You can then organize the lists by combining identical answers and grouping similar ones. Then, each member would vote on which items they think deserve further discussion. This would be followed by a discussion and creation of new actions that must be implemented in the future. The entire retrospective can be saved and easily shared.

Extra tips to facilitate a sailboat retrospective

To get everyone in the mood for a sailboat retrospective, the facilitator can begin by asking icebreaker questions about sailing. Ask about favorite island destinations, or have them choose between a sailboat and a speedboat.

The sailboat retrospective is a highly collaborative activity for the entire team. Thus, you must avoid singling out any member and instead focus on general team improvement. While the activity is meant to be fun, you still have a schedule to keep, so using a timer for each sharing would be practical.

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