Introducing the Spider Web Retrospective

Alex Vernik
Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist
Posted on
Oct 18, 2021
Updated on
May 23, 2022
Table of Content

The name 'Spider Web Retrospective Format' may strike some people as creepy, but we're here to advocate its effectiveness, practicality and distinctness as a retrospective technique. 

This visual retrospective format is usually constructed with 8 different pillars so that it resembles a spider web, and the silliness involved will keep your agile team motivated and excited for the entire retrospective! 

What Is the Spider Web Retrospective Format? 

The spider web retrospective serves to contrast a team's strengths and weaknesses in different areas (traditionally using 8 spider legs) by way of ratings with a visual graphing system like a radar chart. Members vote on how they think things went/are going in different areas of the iteration process. 

Pillars/areas being judged could include:

  • Leadership, Teamwork and Communication– How has your team been getting along? Is the Scrum Master doing everything they can? Dedicate a section of your spider web to analyzing your team’s communication to ensure that things go more smoothly over the next iteration. 
  • Planning, Performance, Morale– Was your team able to stick to the originally defined plan for your iteration? How do your developers feel about their work over the previous sprint? Is team morale up, or down, from when you started? These questions and more will help you take stock of your team’s status before jumping into another iteration period. 
  • Motivation, Feedback, Satisfaction– How eager was your team to tackle the previous sprint? Are they passionately looking forward to the next one, or dreading the day it begins? How have your customers responded to the new product features you released? By taking a closer look at the emotions your customers and developers are experiencing at the end of a sprint, you’ll have a higher probability of addressing major issues next time they arise. 

The team can then look at areas that are commonly voted very low, and work together to solve these issues in the future. They may also look at why votes varied so drastically on specific topics, and can try to have happy members give advice to struggling members.

Why Is This Agile Strategy Important?

The Spider Web Retrospective stands out from the crowd for its fun depiction, visual style and metaphorical value. Much like a spider will feel any ripples moving through its web, a team can use this retrospective to visualize the reverberation of glitches in their iteration process. 

This retro format  highlights the highs and lows of the past sprint, as well as the scrum team itself, so members can see exactly where the most improvement is needed and what needs to be done in the future.  

When Can the Spider Web Retro Format be Used?

The Spider Web Retrospective format can be implemented at any time as a general team feedback report. It can also be used directly after a sprint/iteration as a specific reflection on the most recent process. 

By looking at a specific time frame, a team will be able to highlight their most relevant up-to-date tactics and habits in order to better focus their retrospective meeting. All members and relevant partners should be present and actively participating for the most accurate/successful reporting and reflection.  

The feedback and experience should still be fresh in your dev team’s minds, so it should closely follow the completion of a project/segment. Ideally, the retrospective meeting will take place not long before a new venture so the goals and new strategies can be easily remembered and applied to the future. Luckily, with a service like GoRetro, every retrospective is recorded and saved for future reference.

How to Do A Spider Web Retrospective

With the Spider Web Retrospective Format, the scrum master will start by drawing a pillared axle with 8 pillars– think of this like the spokes of a bicycle wheel!

Each pillar (or spider leg) will represent a topic to be voted upon.  The topic is written at the top of each line, and then the scrum master will inform the team of the standard rating criteria for the team. For example, perhaps your team will use a scale of 1-5, where one means nothing went right, and five means everything was perfect! Once this is complete, the team will pick a topic to start with and define all it encompasses.

After each topic has been discussed, each team member will individually write ratings for all the topics, and then submit these anonymously. 

The scrum leader will then notch the pillar into 5 equal segments and graph the results with small spider dots along the line. Any relevant group discourse can follow regarding the results if they're polarizing, varied, or relevant. This will repeat clockwise until all pillars are dotted with votes along their scales and the conversation is complete regarding highs, lows and strategies for improvement. And make sure not to skimp on praise and acknowledgments! 

The dots can be connected between pillars using the average rating clusters, creating a webbing pattern that is identical to a radar chart. New dots and lines can also be graphed to represent future goals, and where the team’s greatest leaps forward are needed. 

Innovate Your Retrospectives with GoRetro 

The Spider Web Retrospective format is just one of many that offers your team an incredible alternative to the traditional, boring, retrospective meeting. With GoRetro, your team will be able to use visual aids, interactive boards and our virtual collaborative capabilities to complete exciting, creative, effective retrospective meetings every time! 

Learn more about this professional interactive retrospective platform 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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