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It’s easy to become complacent and run the same “plus / minus / delta” retrospective every iteration. But, one of the best ways to ensure your team really keeps improving is to change up your retro format. Changing the retro template gets the team thinking about their work in new ways, and can often prompt new insights. If nothing else – it’s fun and helps generate engagement.

This week, try our new “Movie Review” retrospective. This was inspired by Isabel Corniche’s submission at Retromat.

The “Movie Review” retrospective asks your team to think of the last iteration as a movie that they will review. They will identify the genre of the movie, the villain, the plot twist, etc. This gets your team thinking about what happened in a clever way that may provoke some unusual insights.

Using this approach will require at least 60 minutes, and could likely fill 90 if your team has a lot to say.

Quick Setup

Even if you’re using Instant Agenda to run your retrospective for the first time, you can get going in seconds. After logging in, just create a new retrospective meeting. Click “Category Templates” and select “Movie Review”. That’s it! The category headers are added to your board and ready for your team – just share the meeting link.

Read on for detailed setup steps and advanced features you can use to further customize your retro.

Detailed Setup & Advanced Features

1. Create the Meeting

If you haven’t already created a retrospective type meeting for your team, create a new one. Note that all meeting spaces in Instant Agenda are reusable/recurring. If you already have a retrospective meeting for your team, you can reuse that. If you are reusing a meeting, you can edit its properties to match those described below.

2. Update Meeting Settings

Edit your meeting details, and go to the “Steps” tab to set up your agenda. Here is the agenda setup that I suggest to run a 1-hour retrospective:

Some of these steps are optional. If you are not using the team mood check functionality, you can uncheck those boxes and distribute that time to other steps. I’ve set aside 11 minutes for the team to write their “movie review”, 5 minutes to review/read out their answers as a group, and then 30 minutes to discuss and surface insights or actions.

Once your agenda steps are configured, you should also ensure that blind ideation is turned on. This ensures that team members won’t see each other’s answers during ideation.  You can do this on the “Advanced” tab of the meeting properties.

3. Apply Category Template

The last step requires setting up the categories for your retro board. These act as prompts that your team members will answer to complete their movie review.  Luckily we’ve created a category template you can use to make this easy.

If you are using an existing meeting space, clear any existing topics from your board. You must have an empty board to apply a new category template.

Click “Category Templates” to open the template dialog. From the Category Templates dialog, select and apply the “Movie Review” template. This will clear your current board columns and apply the columns needed for the movie review retro. It should look like this:

You are now ready to run your retrospective.

Tips for Running the Retro

Start the retrospective by measuring the team’s mood regarding the previous iteration. This is an optional step (we recommend using it regularly to establish a historical trendline of the team’s mood).

Next, review any recent action items that your team has been working on since the last retrospective. I typically just update the actions, and save discussions for follow-up after the retrospective. Occasionally, action items warrant extended discussion with everyone.

During the “Gather Ideas” phase of the retro, prompt your team to reflect on the last iteration as if it were a film they had just seen. Then, each person should write a response to each of the movie review categories (Genre, Central Theme, Favorite Character, Villain, The Big Twist, How Did it End? and Favorite Scene). Most of the responses can be very short. For example, for Genre you might write “Horror” or “Action Thriller”. Some team members may not have a response for each prompt – that’s okay.

When everyone is finished writing (or you run out of time), move on to the Readout phase. Everyone’s answers will now become visible and the team can read through the others’ responses. Stop to ask questions if anything is unclear, but avoid extended discussions at this point. The goal is to make sure everyone’s responses are clear and understood.

Next, proceed to the Grouping phase. If any answers are similar, you can group them. For example, perhaps on a really bad iteration, 5 of 7 team members said the Genre was “Horror”.

Next, during the Voting phase, prompt the team to vote for those entries they feel would be most valuable to discuss. Which topic is most likely to lead to action, insight, decision, or improvement. When voting is complete, move on to Insights and Actions.

Use the Insights and Actions phase to discuss those entries that were most highly voted. Take notes on anything that seems useful, and record decisions or actions that the team wants to take on to improve for next iteration. When you run out of items to discuss, or time runs out, move on to the Review and Close phase.

Review and Close allows you a chance to review all the actions and decisions that the team has taken on, and potentially to prioritize or revise them.

That’s it, you’re done! End the retrospective, and optionally send out a summary to the team.


If you feel that 60 minutes is too short for this retro, you can have team members populate their answers to the prompts prior to the actual meeting. Share the Instant Agenda link with team members before the meeting so that they have time to think and write their answers. As long as private ideation is turned on, team members will not see each other’s answers until the Readout phase.

Instant Agenda has over 10 pre-built retrospective templates that you can add to your retro.