The Hot Air Balloon

The Hot Air Balloon is a hybrid retrospective / futurespective that looks at what is helping / hindering the team and what positive / negative things are on the horizon.

Best For

Assessing progress

When to Use

In the middle of a project

What is the Hot Air Balloon retrospective?

The Hot Air Balloon retrospective is a reflective exercise, asking a team to raise and discuss what is helping or hindering them on their project.

It combines backward-looking reflection into recent past activities, as well as forward-looking at what is coming up for the team.

The hot air and sandbags represent what has been driving or holding back the team, while the storm clouds and sunshine represent potential positive and negative events on the horizon.

This helps a team think of their recent work as a part of the whole project, not just in isolation. The team think about how to improve based on their last sprint, but also look ahead to identify risks.

How to run the Hot Air Balloon retrospective in Metro Retro?

Time needed: 75-90 minutes.

  1. Introduce and explain the template to the team.
  2. Ask the team to start thinking about the current sprint. What were 'sandbags' holding the team back, and what was 'hot air' driving the team forward?
  3. Ask the team members to write their ideas and place them in the sandbags or hot air sections (10 minutes)
  4. Group the items as a team and discuss them (10 minutes)
  5. Move on to repeat the steps for the future-looking part of the session. What storm clouds are coming up, and what sunny skies are ahead of us? (10 minutes).
  6. Group these items again and discuss (10 minutes).
  7. Now look at the combined past and future groups and see if there are any common groups you can make. (10 minutes).
  8. Hold a voting session to uncover the three most important themes (5 minutes).
  9. Brainstorm and discuss solutions and actions for the top themes (10 minutes).
  10. Group the solutions and hold a voting round (5 minutes).
  11. Decide an owner for each of the top three actions.
  12. Finish the retro or hold a closing activity.

Tips on running this session

To extend this exercise, ask the team what stops them from floating into space - and is floating higher always better? If the sandbags are too heavy or the storm clouds force the hot air balloon to make an emergency landing, how would the team take off again and resume course?

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