Fly High Retrospective – To identify and resolve impediments

Kite Surfing - Fly High

In this article I’m going to talk about the retrospective format “Fly High”. The retrospective helps the Development Team to think of impediments that block the team to deliver more value for the business.

The Fly High retrospective has three parts. Things that go well, team-level impediments and organisational-level impediments. Before you start, draw a picture on a big paper or whiteboard with a kite stuck in electricity or phone wires and a knot in the string. The kite stands for the good work or things that go well. The wires for impediments out of the organisation. The knot in the string is for the team-level impediments.

The Fly High retrospective

The setup of the retrospective varies on the maturity level of the Development Team and the organisation. On mature Development Teams and organisations I recommend a timed boxed setting of one hour. For less mature Development Teams I recommend one and a half hour.

Fly High drawing example
Fly High drawing example


Welcome the team for the retrospective, explain the retrospective format and the goal for this specific retrospective. I mostly use various check-in techniques to get the feedback. This only works if the Development Team is ready for the format I selected.

Gathering the information

This format works best if the team members write down their experience in keywords on post-its. After a few minutes and writing loads of posts-its, ask the team to place the post-its on the picture you have drawn earlier. Start grouping the different post-its on similar keywords and ask the members to explain the keywords that they have written down. Remember: it’s up to the team to group: as Scrum Master you are only facilitating!

After 10-15 minutes it’s time to finish this phase of the retrospective and move on to focus on the remaining post-its individually.

Focus on the keywords itself

During this phase you go through the keywords on the whiteboard, starting with the things that go well and let the conversations determine the flow of the discussion. Talk about improvements that can be made on the subjects or what should stay the same. Write down the actions the Development Team would like to take to remove the impediments.


In the checkout I let the team pick three actions to select for the next sprint to remove team-level impediments. Ask the Development Team which organisational-level impediment is hurting them the most. Agree with them to take action on this impediment yourself as a Scrum Master. Take a picture of the whiteboard including the picked subjects for later use.

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