Skip to main content

Hot Air Balloon Retrospective

Reach new heights with a retro that’s fun, playful, and optimistic

Custom retrospective cover

What is a Hot Air Balloon retrospective?

A hot air balloon is a gorgeous, fantastical mode of travel. And it’s an equally fun way to run a sprint retrospective or lessons learned meeting!

Imagine your team huddled together in a basket beneath a colorful globe filled with hot air. You need to get where you’re going, but on your way, you must avoid any menacing storm clouds and stick to the clear, sunny skies. 

If you need to go higher, turn up the flame. Or load up on sandbags, to come down closer to earth. 

This retrospective includes four prompts: two to look back, and two look forward. That’s right – Hot Air Balloon meetings are both retrospectives and futurespectives

Here’s a Hot Air Balloon retrospective template you can try it out yourself. Sunny days ahead! 

Looking back

This is when you’ll reflect on what your team’s done over the last sprint, year, or any other period of time. What practices and processes did you use, and how did they work out? 

💨 Hot air

What practices or processes helped your team reach new heights? What brought you closer to your goals, or helped you get there more easily? 

Example: Integrating all our apps with Zapier saved us so much hassle and time. 

🪨 Sandbags

What slowed you down, held you back, or demoralized your team members? Why was that practice or process used? 

Example: Our weekly reporting was very time-consuming. The value the reports offered wasn’t worth all the time and effort it took to compile them. 

Looking ahead

Now it’s time to look forward. What’s on the horizon that your team will need to navigate, steer clear of, or plan for? 

🌩️ Storm clouds

What difficult or tricky things lie ahead for our team? Is there anything that could trip you up, or throw you off course?

Example: Our next client doesn’t seem super clear on their goals for this project. That could make it tricky to deliver work they’re really happy with. 

☀️ Clear skies

What’s your team feeling excited about, and prepared for? How can your team steer clear of the storm clouds, and safely reach sunny skies? 

Example: We’ve got a couple team members who are amazing at strategy. Let’s connect them with that client, and help them get crystal-clear on their goals. 

When to do a hot air balloon retrospective

When you need to look forward

The Hot Air Balloon sprint retrospective is unique because it lets teams look to both the past and the future. You can assess what’s worked for your team, and also brainstorm ways to apply your learnings moving forward. They’re amazing retros at pivotal moments, like the end of the year or when you wrap up a big project. 

When you’re feeling creative 

The Hot Air Balloon template is a playful, visual way to structure a retrospective. It’s perfect for when your team wants to embrace some lighthearted optimism as you look forward together. 

When you want to take a birds-eye view on work

Hot Air Balloon retrospective meetings can be especially fun around the winter holidays, or first thing in the New Year, when we naturally reflect on past achievements and future plans. It lets you take a different perspective on your work with a birds-eye view.

How to run a Hot Air Balloon retrospective in Parabol

If you’re a Scrum Master or the team meeting facilitator, select your team on the right and then hit that vibrant Start New Meeting button. It’s time for take-off in your hot air balloon.

When running a retrospective in Parabol you don’t need to use a single post-it note or a whiteboard. 

Select the Hot Air Balloon retrospective template

Select Retro Meeting with the arrows, then use the dropdown to select the Hot Air Balloon retrospective template. This is where you’ll find Parabol’s library of 40+ retrospective ideas. 

Feel free to copy and customize your template to add a “Kudos” column if you want to celebrate the work of your team. 

Start your Hot Air Balloon retrospective with an Icebreaker

Every Parabol retrospective begins with an optional icebreaker. This box is checked by default. You don’t have to do one, but we recommend it. 

If you’re doing an icebreaker, you’ll have a random question to answer. You can refresh it if you want another option, and of course you can create your own if you want.

After the icebreaker you’ll move on to the reflect stage. This is where your team will brainstorm in silence using the prompts above. All reflections are kept anonymous at this stage to prevent groupthink.

Icebreakers in Parabol

All Parabol sprint retrospectives can be run synchronously or asynchronously. Functionalities such as the timer, voting and multiplayer grouping help you make your retrospective exercise a success and make facilitation easier.

Reflect, Group, and Discuss topics based on the Hot Air Balloon prompts

Team members can all leave comments together, or do it at a time that works for them. Also, reflections are anonymous, and no one can see them until you’re done working on them.

After the reflect phase, you’ll vote on issues to discuss, talk about the most voted on items, and set action items for how to resolve them in your next sprint. 

Parabol will send a summary of the retro when you’re done so nobody needs to take notes. 

Fun Retrospectives with Less Prep Time

92% of users agree that Parabol improves meeting efficiency