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Pleasure and Gain Retrospective – A Guide

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jan 13, 2022
Updated on
Jan 13, 2022
Table of Content

Pleasure and gain retrospectives are incredibly effective for teams that are experiencing a slump in their productivity and engagement. The pleasure and gain retro format helps initiate conversations about integral topics that revolve around adapting to new situations, determining individualistic roles, and setting values towards other team members. 

It can also be very beneficial for helping new additions settle into the workplace. Overall, the activities pertaining to the pleasure and gain retro gear their focus towards singling out what a team has gained or lost. They’re also about pleasure and whether scrum team members have any insights on them or not. 

What is the Pleasure and Gain Retrospective?

The emotional wellness of your team is incredibly important. By determining and balancing a team’s emotional wellbeing, you can achieve much more in terms of compatibility from team members. The pleasure and gain retrospective format is an enjoyable and creative method that enhances regular retro meetings by making sure they are emotionally engaging.  

With the help of the pleasure and gain retrospective template, team members can be more emotionally invested in regular retro meetings. Additionally, this retro format also unveils the nuances between value and pleasure, which helps team members understand the importance of distinguishing between the two concepts to attain more productivity. 

Overall, pleasure and gain exercises help team members realize that adhering to and overcoming pain, annoyance, and anguish is sometimes necessary for gaining valuable knowledge and experience. Similarly, there are also many things that can both be enjoyed and provide value at the same time. Another pursuit when formulating the pleasure-gain activity is to come to an empathetic realization of the idea of joy, and how the experience of pleasure can vary from one person to the next. 


When can This  Retrospective be used?

You can use the pleasure and gain retro in many situations. This meeting has the potential of becoming a cornerstone practice when a team faces hardships. These hardships can come in the form of compatibility and communication issues; they can also stem from communication gaps and role conflicts. Therefore, retro meetings can be ideal if a team is undergoing confrontations, conflicts, or experiences internal misunderstandings. 

You can use the pleasure and gain retrospective template to foster a sense of appreciation in your team. By having them complete the template, you help the team come to a conclusive realization of the importance of gain, and how sometimes they will have to sacrifice pleasure for value. It will also open them up to different perspectives. This will help them close communication gaps, compromise for the greater good, and not only cherish pleasurable moments, but also learn from them. Not to mention, conducting pleasure and gaining templates helps with transparency in communication, which paves the way for more productivity. 

Who is the Retrospective for?

Pleasure and gain retrospectives are a time for your team to reflect on how things went during a recent difficulty, and how they can improve when faced with a similar situation in the future. Retrospectives such as this help evaluate how the last session went, and create a shared understanding of things that went well, and things that didn’t. 

What makes the Pleasure and Gain Retrospective effective?

Pleasure and gain retrospective serves many benefits. Most importantly, the retro allows you to create a plan for improving the way your team works. This activity is deeply rooted in the findings of Daniel Kahneman’s Loss Aversion Theory, which states that organizational pressures and psychological tendencies can cause good people to act unethically. 

Loss aversion is the innate tendency to avoid losses to acquire gains. People in general hate losing more than they enjoy winning. Loss aversion is also related to Prospect theory, which introduces the notion that people will be willing to take much greater risks to avoid losing the things they have than they would have taken to gain them in the first place. 

This essentially means that people who commit unethical acts will consciously decide to cover their inadvertent mistakes. Therefore, this activity gives way to critical conversations within a team that lead to behaviors that are less loss-averse. In other words, teams can inherently come across breakthrough realizations and set across on a path of self-discovery. 

This self-discovery opens the vast portal of self-assessment, in which teams will be looking forward to gaining insights and experience from executing painful tasks. By doing so, your team will experience more clarity and willingness when they come across unwanted situations. The only way to deal with hardships is by facing them head-on and learning from them. The pleasure and gain retro template help share this message through self-discovery and introspection. 


How to execute the Pleasure and Gain Retrospective?

When it comes to executing this retro format, you will need some tools. This includes: 

  • Pens 
  • Post-it notes
  • Other stationery items 

Draw the Pleasure and Gain Graph

This step involves drawing a Y-and X-axis graph. On this graph, the top of the Y-axis represents pleasure and the bottom represents gain. The right side of the X-axis will represent loss, while the left side will represent gain. After drawing this graph on a large whiteboard, hand the team members post-it notes. 

Ask Questions Relating to the Last Sprint

Once you have formulated the graph, you can hand them notes which include various topics pertaining to the last sprint, or even general topics. You will then have to move forth and ask retrospective questions relating to each defining moment in the last sprint, focusing on the team’s feelings, gains, and losses. 

After each question, team members will attach the notes onto the graph to create a pleasure and gain quadrant. From this you can derive an overview report of the team, corresponding areas, and ways to improve it. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the pleasure and gain retrospective is not only enjoyable but also greatly beneficial. Indulging your team in this activity can reap excellent rewards and lead to increased productivity as a by-product. 

You can run your own sprint retrospective meeting with various templates, unlimited teammates, and productive features for FREE using our own agile retro tool GoRetro. Let’s GoRetro :)


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