Agile is a non-traditional approach to project management. It focuses on how the work gets done, collaboratively planning and doing the work together. Although the Agile philosophy and the frameworks that support it stem from the software development industry, Overlap has worked hard to articulate and leverage the value of Agile outside of the technology sector.

In Agile, we are constantly moving between planning the work, doing the work, and learning from the work. We use Agile all the time at Overlap, in every project we undertake and every reflective conversation we have. Overlappers have even adapted Agile in their personal lives—to support wedding planning, moving, or to keep track of fitness goals. Agile connects to all areas of our life!

At its core, Agile is about investing in people to make them better. Teams who reflect together, stay together! This takes place through retrospectives and 1:1 conversations, which help us learn and improve as a team and as individuals. As a human-centred design firm, this is something that we at Overlap care a whole lot about.

We would like to share one of our favourite frameworks for running a retrospective after we complete a chunk of work, called Sails and Anchors. For those of you who have an hour to spare with your team, you may want to give this a try. Read our blog post, then download your own Sails and Anchors tool and give it a try.

Sails and Anchors

Post-its arranged sequentially on a wall with the written prompts for Sails and AnchorsMaterials Needed:
  • Sharpies or something to write with
  • Sticky Notes
  • Prompt Title Cards:
    • “What did we do?”
    • “Sails”
    • “Anchors”
    • “What did we learn?”
    • “What would we do differently going forward?”
  • Overlap’s Sails and Anchors tool (optional)
  • Identify a facilitator for the discussion
  • Set up Prompt Title Cards along a wall (leaving space for clusters of sticky notes)
What did we do?
  • What did we do? Individuals write their responses on sticky notes
  • Read through the cards under “What did we do” as a group
  • Ask for anything that might be missing from what is captured on the wall
Sails and Anchors 
  • Provide the group with the following prompts:
    • What put the wind in our sails as a team? What went well?
    • What were the anchors that made it difficult to get to where we wanted to go? What didn’t go so well?
  • Provide the group with 3-5 minutes of solo time to come up with both Sails and Anchors
  • Starting with Anchors, have your team share their ideas and you can organize them into clusters, ‘like with like’ as you go. Once all Anchors have been shared and clustered on the wall, do the same process with the Sails.
What did we learn? What will we do differently?
  • Once Sails and Anchors are complete, provide the group with 3-4 minutes of solo time to think about what they learned, and what they could do differently going forward.
  • Starting with “what did we learn,” have participants share their ideas and cluster ‘like with like’. Once all learnings have been shared and clustered on the wall, do the same process with the ideas for what could be done differently moving forward.
  • Take photos of each prompt and the group’s responses. Send out to participants afterward.

Did you give it a try? We would love to hear about your experience. Tweet us your questions or experiences @OverlapAssoc

Want to know more about Agile?

Sails and Anchors worksheet

Looking for a one-page version of the Sail and Anchor Instructions?

Download a Sails and Anchors one-pager