Retrospective Experience – High Performance Tree

For this retrospective, I was struggling to pick an appropriate technique. The team’s velocity has been creeping up and the actions from each retrospective were mostly minor tweaks. So I hit the books and saw this in the “When you would use this exercise” heading of Luis Gonçalves and Ben Linders Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives book chapter on “High Performance Tree”:

“A good team that is looking for the next step to become a high-performing team”

Clearly that sounded perfect, and after a little more digging I found a fantastic video by Lyssa Adkins called The High Performance Tree which demonstrates the technique perfectly.

Gather Data, Generate Insights and Decide What To Do

I was a little nervous about using the metaphor as it’s not something we’ve done before and I’d read that the team can get a little uncomfortable. Thankfully that didn’t happen at all.

I won’t re-iterate the steps, or embarrass myself by including a photo of the “tree” I drew, but I will say that each root, leaf and fruit led to really interesting discussions. Having a visual representation of our target worked really well. It helped guide the conversation towards parts we are missing, but also towards part we are doing well.


I can’t list all the outcomes, but I’m particular pleased we realised we don’t currently have a “can do anything” attitude but perhaps should. I’m really hoping we can turn that around in coming sprints.

Overall, this was a great technique and we had an excellent retrospective. If you’re a ScrumMaster of a mature team and are looking for inspiration to become high performing, I’d definitely recommend this technique.

Personal Retrospective

What went well?

  • My drawing of the tree!
  • The team responded well and it was good to go back to first principles

What could I have done better?

  • When writing up the meeting, I noticed a few points that we said we’d get back to, but didn’t. I need to come up with a better way of tracking these points.

What should I not do again?

I don’t think anything went so badly that I can put in this category.

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