New Retro Idea "The Integral Retro"


Been reading a lot about integral theory lately and had an idea to create a retro based on Ken Wilbur’s four quadrants. Not getting into the levels here but in theory I think this could be a very powerful retro.

One of the core tenants of the theory is that everything is a part of something and everything is also a whole. Understanding this helps us to step back and see different perspectives and make decisions based on a holistic view instead of a narrow one.

Explanation of the four quadrants for this specific retro idea:

The left side is for individual and team based internal reflection.
The right side is for team based (at the top right) and systems based (bottom right) reflection.
The right side is observalable evidence from the outside. The left side is for internal observations of self and team including learnings, team dynamics, etc.

Here is how the retro idea I came up with goes…

  1. Start off by explaining the four quadrants.
  2. Ask the team members to try and come up with at least one item for each quadrant.
  3. After posting inside the appropriate quadrant, start with the top left quadrant and have the team members read off the topics they wrote relating to self. Same goes for bottom left which would be next.
  4. The Facilitator then reads through the top right and bottom right quadrants.
  5. Action items are recorded throughout and may include things such as new working agreements, learning logs, ideas for team building, process improvements, and organizational improvements or impediments to improvement.

Your Favorite Agile Retrospectives. POST THEM HERE AND LETS BUILD THE ULTIMATE LIST by Troy Lightfoot
Scrum Masters, Team Leads/Coaches, and/or Agile Coaches
Coaching Agile Teams Discussion

Love it, @troy . Especially the in control / out of control action items.

And what if you added the concept of “Yet” to the Out of Control box…

  • “These things are not in our control, yet” - then an action item might be to move the fence!

I think it would be useful to provide an expanded definition for each quadrant. I often confuse “It” and “It’s”


  • I Quadrant – Leadership & Engagement
  • IT Quadrant – Competencies, Products and Technologies
  • WE Quadrant – Cultures, Communities & Vision
  • ITS Quadrant – Systems Thinking and the Flow of Value

My own interpretation:

  • I = Personal: This is about “Me” – my psychological, inner world; how I see things, what I experience, my mindset.
  • IT = Practices: Refers to the team structure, methods, metrics, processes, decision making patterns, organizational, leadership and team practices
  • WE = Relational – a shared vision and interpersonal dynamics among peers; how we interact, what we value together, the team micro-culture
  • ITS = Environmental: Everything external to the team systems, including other value streams, handoffs, rules, corporate culture and policies

Again, I have a hard time teasing apart IT and ITS, and I might have them mixed up…

Also, I’m finding it useful to think of

  • interior in terms of intangible
  • Exterior as tangible


Found this from Lyssa Adkin’s boot camp workbook


I have been using a very similar pattern for defining objectives with my direct reports and I have received the best objectives I have ever seen.

It is very reflective, system oriented, and actionable. I love it!


I tried this ‘Integral Retro’ with two teams last week, both with remote members. So, I created a Powerpoint slide that they could edit simultaneously in their browsers. I could have done this in a somewhat columnar format and asked the teams which they wanted, and they both chose the quadrant. Better visualization was one reason. For one team in particular, ‘breaking it down’ into I/We-It/Its did seem to trigger a different perspective and more well-formed observations came forth. Also, the in-control/out-of-control distinction for actions somehow made them feel more empowered about the things they could control. Thanks for sharing @troy!