Shining Light on the Harry Potter Retrospective Format

Alex Vernik
Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist
Posted on
Nov 4, 2021
Updated on
May 23, 2022
Table of Content

Sometimes the team just needs to have a chit chat about how to manage their mischief, manifest their wishes, and breakthrough the ordinary. Who's a better guide than The Extraordinary Chosen One himself? 

What Is the Harry Potter Retrospective Format?

The magic of Harry Potter Retrospective is found in the use of the Harry Potter world as a metaphorical medium to assess the processes/strategies of the past Iteration (and future ones), and the team as a whole. 

Magical elements help the scrum team members to express what things they'd like to illuminate and ruminate on. The metaphorical theme makes setting goals and identifying motivators/dead weight/magical moments way more fun. 

What Makes Harry Potter Retrospective  Effective and Fun?

Transforming ordinary (and let's face it...sometimes boring) daily tasks and workload, like running a sprint retrospective meeting, into a magical adventure is captivating even for adults. With a little nostalgia and some nuanced metaphors, honesty becomes so much easier and teamwork never looked so animated and unifying. 

Everyone needs to escape for a bit sometimes, and pretty much everyone on the planet is familiar with the Witching & Wizarding World. 

When can the Harry Potter Retrospective  Be Used?

This format, like most, requires thorough and relevant feedback from everyone to be effective. We tend to hold onto negative memories more easily and for longer, yet positive ones can tend to fade. It's important to share positive and negative notes, because praise and acknowledgments are crucial. It also helps to see what tools/strategies should continue to be used. 

That being said, this Retrospective should take place very soon after a project/Iteration so the feedback is easily recalled. Ideally a new Iteration/Sprint will take place soon after to effectively apply all the new feedback and goals. 

How to Run the Harry Potter Retrospective 

This Retrospective has many versions, so take the fundamentals and make them your own. It's more an amalgamation of many small interchangeable exercises than one cohesive operation. For that reason, we'll describe a few aspects and how they may loosely be applied, in no obligatory order.

Hogwarts Orientation

You will welcome the team into an uncluttered or virtual space. Festivities will immerse them into whimsy; costumes, chocolate frogs, brooms, etc. Maybe you'll perform a magic trick or two to set the vibe; inspire wonder. This part isn't obligatory but it is highly recommended!

Sorting Hat

This exercise is an ice-breaker that will lead to enlightenment. The sorting will more or less just act as a catalyst for self-reflection (what they are/what they're not), regardless of whether it's accurate or not. 

They'll pop over to this Harry Potter site, for the official 'Sorting Hat' quiz. The Retrospective leader will share the qualities of each House (Griffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff) first. Once they complete the quiz they'll share the results with each other and whether or not they agree with their results, and why/why not. 

This is a great way (similar to astrology, Enneagram, or Myers-Briggs tests) to find out who someone is (their strengths and weaknesses) from a comparable reference point. Teams work best when they have balanced personalities (the thinkers-doers/optimists-pessimists/practical-creatives). This is a great exercise to understand where there may be imbalances within departments or roles. 

The Spells

Together, voting (with lighting bolts) and discussions can take place on the following prompts:


  • What's been shedding light on our path? Or,
  • What's something we need to shed more light on/clear up?

Luna Lovegood's Love Potion:

  • What did you 'love'/think was a 'good' part of the past Iteration?


  • What's a new skill you'd like to 'unlock' for the next project? Or,
  • What new skill/knowledge did you unlock?

Avada Kedavra:

  • What part of the process would you like to 'kill' off before the next Iteration? Or,
  • What about this last Iteration killed your rhythm?

Vera Certo:

  • What aspects of the process do you wish to transform (tweak) to improve for the next Iteration?

Some charming further inquisitions might be:

  • What's our Marauder's Map look like and where are we headed to stay out of Mischief? 
  • What's guiding us on our path?
  • What spell do you wish you'd had this past Iteration (ex: time freeze for longer deadline, etc)
  • What's in the crystal ball for the future?
  • Who would you like to send an owl to (maybe throw paper airplanes) to deliver the Tri-Wizard Cup for being the team's MVP (share praise and acknowledgments). Who's the Hero?

The Harry Potter retro is super flexible and fun retrospective. Ending with praise is a great move. There's so much potential here for transforming ordinary work into something out of this world. 

Try GoRetro For Your Team’s Retrospectives

Online retrospective  platforms like GoRetro have an amazing way of supporting these really fun-themed Retros in a clear and organized way that's really illuminating. It has tons of customizable agile retrospective templates and also holds discussions, voting, and records the whole session for reference. 

Learn more about our magical user-friendly collaborative retrospective templates here

About the author

Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist

Engineering leader, passionate about coding products and value creation. Vast experience with managing R&D teams at various scales. Embracing innovation and transformation for constant improvement.

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