Sad Mad and Glad Retrospective


One of the powerful retrospective getting very popular lately is Sad/Mad and Glad. Many organizations don’t even conduct it as they are afraid to talk about employee challenges. There are obviously pros and cons but making it work truly helps you to achieve more.

Prerequisites :-

  • Your team and your presence
  • Sticky notes (Three colors)
  • Enough Pens
  • Open minded motivated teams

In this retrospective, you ask your team to get into a room.  Every colored sticky note represent Sad/Mad or Glad respectively.  Probably pasting a diagram like below in room would provide a better clarity for your team in terms of what does it mean.

Further you can ask every individual to write up the areas what they are happy about it (Glad), don’t like it (Sad) or frustrated with it (Mad). I always recommend individual team members to write their names against each sticky note else it would just become a political battle. I have seen instances where people just write some crap either because they did not have good appraisal last time or not able to be in pace with others. If you find an item which has something written in mad and individual does not want to even talk about it, it means either its fake or written with wrong intention. There are some people very shy and not willing to open at all. They should go to their manager or who is driving sad mad/glad to discuss the area of concern.

Once everyone is done with writing, spend an hour or so reading every item and discuss that with team. Remember the goal is to share as much as information about the issue and gaining more details around the problem while not fixing the problem there itself. This would be good input to take it forward as employee happiness and moral is very critical to agile success.

Things to remember while doing Sad/Mad & Glad :-

  • Must discuss or make every item visible to every individual unless there is a derogatory remarks which is not acceptable.
  • Team to think of success of team and project rather considering this as revenge material.
  • Everyone must open up. If you don’t have guts to talk about your challenge then don’t even write it. You are just creating a FUSS which is either not true or you don’t know what is this the right forum to talk about it.
  • Refrain from making comments about individual if you don’t have supporting material. The world is not perfect and even the goal is to identify the improve system over making it worse
  • Should not be anonymous.
  • Don’t abuse it. It is conducted to the best interest of an individual and it should never be use as tool to fulfill your political battle.
  • Not every problem can be fixed eventually. Somebody writes that I don’t feel like working doesn’t mean you would allow him to sleep in the office.
  • Don’t fix the problems during this retrospective.

The benefits I see with this retrospective are :-

  • Gives lots of motivation to team when go over “Glad” items.
  • Give an opportunity to an employee to express their challenges.
  • Bring in open culture
  • Reduce attrition as you really know challenges and definitely a lot of which you can work on.
  • It gives 360 view in terms of how the teams are progressing.
  • One of the biggest “Glad” item one should have is, your organization is conducting it.

The challenges I see are :-

  • It may become political battle if your team is not mature and willing to go for anonymous survey.
  • Excessive sad mad and glad would unearth issues which are not really problems while make other team members think it’s a major problem.
  • Sometimes very happy team morale goes down as well as when you have opportunity to think about negatives, you feel like writing it and further “law of attraction” does its job.
  • What I written must be addressed and fixed “Myth”. You may not like the tile color in washroom but that cannot be really changed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *