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Surprised Worried Inspired Retrospective

Talk through what’s on your mind with this flexible activity

surprised worried inspired retrospective

What is a Surprised Worried Inspired retrospective?

In a Surprised Worried Inspired retrospective, you’ll dive into your feelings about work, and process them with your team members in a safe, productive way. 

We put so much of our time, skill, and energy into our jobs. 

We care how things turn out, and it’s totally normal for work to bring up strong feelings! It’s okay for each sprint to feel like a bit of a roller coaster. In fact, we can learn a lot from our emotions. 

That’s where this Surprised Worried Inspired retrospective meeting comes in. 

In this agile meeting, you’ll talk about what’s stressing you out, catching you off guard, and getting you pumped for the future. 


What popped up out of the blue this past project or sprint? 

These can be good surprises, bad ones, or things you aren’t sure about yet. This is your time to share anything you weren’t expecting, and how that surprise affected you. 

Example: I was really surprised the client didn’t have any feedback at all on our first iteration of their site. I’m glad they didn’t have anything bad to say, but I felt a little uneasy leaving it at that. 


We all get anxious sometimes. What’s stressing you out right now? This could be something from the past that’s still bothering you, or a task coming up that feels a little scary. 

Share those concerns with your coworkers, and come up with some action items to address them. It will be so much easier to face those obstacles together!

Example: It’s pretty overwhelming how many new users are signing up for our product. Can we handle all the traffic?


Work will always have ups and downs. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate the high points! 

What are you looking forward to, and excited to tackle? What part of your last spring left you feeling energized? Later, you can follow up on how those exciting things panned out. 

Example: It was so cool to meet everyone’s kids and pets on Zoom the other day. I felt like I got to know you as people, outside of our jobs. 

When to do a Surprised Worried Inspired retrospective


With this retrospective, you’ll look both backwards and forwards. That makes it great when you’re still in the thick of a project, and anticipating what lies ahead. 

Emotions like surprise, excitement, and even anxiety give you valuable clues about how things have gone — and how you might need to adjust your approach in the future. Talking through those feelings can help your team stay prepared. 

In challenging times

If your team just overcame some hurdles together, this retro is a great way to check in. 

It was a rocky road, but you made it! Talking through those surprises — and what worries or joys they inspired — builds trust and helps you support one another better. 

Before or after a big change or decision

Teams may be feeling surprised, worried, or inspired when a big change happens to the structure of your team or the company. 

Since this format looks backwards (surprised) and forward (worried, inspired), you can have a nuanced debate about big changes.

Perhaps you will be transitioning to a new way of working? Or is there a new policy being drafted and you want to gauge opinion from your team on how they feel?  Try this retrospective format to get a read on the room. 

How to run a Surprised Worried Inspired retrospective in Parabol

First things first, you can sign up for Parabol for free. Then facilitators can start this meeting in Parabol by selecting their team on the right and then hitting that vibrant Add New Meeting button. 

Select the Surprised Worried Inspired retrospective template

Jump into Parabol and select Retro Meeting with the arrows, then use the dropdown to select the Surprised Worried Inspired retrospective template. This is where you’ll find Parabol’s library of 40+ pre-made and customizable retrospective formats. 

surprised worried inspired retrospective template in the parabol interface

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 – especially for remote teams. 

Start your retrospective with an Icebreaker

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.

Perhaps ask team members where they’re drawing inspiration from right now?

Icebreakers in Parabol

After the icebreaker you’ll move on to the reflect stage. This is where your team will do all their ideation and brainstorm in silence using the prompts above. All reflections are kept anonymous at this stage to prevent groupthink. Parabol gives Scrum Masters or meeting facilitators the option to timebox this process.

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 retro 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 follow up with action items for each process improvement so you can make it a reality.

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

Of course, you can do this retrospective in person, with a whiteboard or sticky notes. But it’s even easier in Parabol, especially if you’re an asynchronous or distributed team.

If you like this template, you might also like other blended retrospective ideas with a futurespective element, such as the Hot Air Balloon retrospective, Hopes and Fears retrospective, or the Hero’s Journey retrospective.

Discover 35+ Retrospective Templates in Parabol!

92% of users agree that Parabol’s free online retrospective tool improves meeting efficiency. What’s more, Parabol gets your team talking and takes the effort out of running retrospectives.