KALM Sprint Retrospective Format

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jan 21, 2021
Updated on
May 23, 2022
Table of Content

As calming as it sounds, the KALM retrospective does what it says on the tin: keeps you and your fellow retro-mates calm, while helping to move along the business at hand. 

Here’s GoRetro’s all-in guide to keeping your sprint retrospectives calm and flowing with the KALM retro! 

What is the KALM sprint retrospective?

This sprint retrospective is one to facilitate conversations among team members about the current activities being used and what their value is.

The KALM , very much like the starfish retrospective, can be done in a number of ways, but a great way is by dividing a whiteboard into different sections: Keep, Add, Less, and More, giving each team member a stack of sticky notes to write down ideas they have for each category.

The categories include:

●  Keep: Things that the team recognizes as having value and adding to their process.

●  Add: These are ideas that the team comes up with that can help the team accomplish their goals and get to where they want/need to be.

●  Less: The team writes out things that are being done that hold value but could possibly be done less. Perhaps things that hold value in one area but hold the team back in others.

●  More: These are things that the team is already doing that could be done more often. Perhaps actions that are helping the team get where they need to be and can be incorporated in other areas of their work.


How to Keep a KALM Retro (and Carry On!)

 The easiest way to run a KALM retro is to - 

  1. Divide your board into the four areas listed above. 
  2. Give your retro-mates a stack of post-its, and get them to write down their thoughts across each category (Keep, Add, Less, More)
  3. Get participants to add their post-its to the right section of the board. 
  4. Discuss away! You may even notice that some of the notes’ subjects keep repeating themselves...and if so, we suggest you start with these topics first, as they're clearly the hottest! Other post-its and issues can be discussed via vote if there are too many to get through. 
KALM Sprint Retrospective Board
KALM Sprint Retrospective Template


The Benefits of the KALM Retro

Not only do you get to ‘keep calm and carry on’ with this style of retrospective, but it's also a great way of getting those more hesitant team members to come out of their shells and open up (see also: Icebreaker Questions to Really Get Your Dev Team Talking). 

  • It's polite, and promotes dialogue. It puts your teammates in the driver’s seat, allowing them a sense of agency and ownership. 

Quick Tips for Running a KALM Retro 

Here are a few quick tips to get your KALM Retro off to a calm start! 

  • Sense a high-stress sprint? The KALM retro is a perfect (and calming) solution, equalizing parties and balancing workloads for all stakeholders. 
  • Set specific boundaries or rules for what is to be discussed. 
  • Keep things anonymous to keep everyone feeling safe and engaged. 
  • Follow-up. It's great to talk about things, but actually executing them will do wonders for your sprint, and team’s morale! 

Keep Calm (and KALM) with GoRetro

Or, you can quickly and easily run your entire sprint with GoRetro. 

This forever-free sprint retrospective tool helps to keep your retros productive, engaged, and blame-free, all while anticipating any future issues, and eliminating them entirely. 

GoRetro is loved by masses of software devs worldwide, including those from the likes of Netflix, Adobe, Lyft and more. We just know you're going to love it! 

See for yourself. Start and continue for free right here, and enjoy a calmer, KALMer approach to your retros immediately!  

When should the KALM agile retro be used?

This retrospective format can be used after a sprint, or just as a quarterly check-in to see how their goals are being worked towards and achieved.

Interested in other retrospective formats?


From "What Went Well" to "Starfish retrospective", "Sailboat retrospective" and more, GoRetro's offers a wide variety of retrospective templates.
Pick up the best template for your team or create your own retro board using our custom option. Additionally, you can find more agile retrospective ideas in our blog post.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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