What Is What Went Well? Definition and Overview

Max 5min read
What Went Well

Picture this: You’re in a team meeting, discussing a project’s progress, and someone asks, “What went well?” What exactly does that mean? Get ready to dive into the world of “What Went Well” and unravel its mysterious charm.

“What Went Well” is like a secret treasure chest waiting to be unlocked. It reflects on the positive aspects of a project, task, or situation. It’s that magical moment when you pause to celebrate the victories, accomplishments, and strengths that emerged along the way.

But why is “What Went Well” so intriguing? The answer lies in its power to uplift, inspire, and motivate. It’s a chance to acknowledge the hard work, creativity, and collaboration that brought success. It’s a reminder that rays of sunshine illuminate the path to triumph amidst challenges and setbacks.

What happens when we embrace the power of “What Went Well?” We will explore it in this article.

What Is What Went Well

What Went Well Definition:

“What Went Well” is a powerful practice that focuses on identifying and acknowledging the positive aspects, successes, and achievements within a project, task, or situation. It is a reflective exercise that encourages individuals or teams to pause and recognize the things that went right or exceeded expectations.

This practice goes beyond merely identifying what worked; it seeks to understand why it worked and its impact. “What Went Well” fosters a culture of appreciation, optimism, and continuous improvement by consciously exploring and highlighting the positive aspects.

The essence of “What Went Well” lies in its ability to shift the perspective from a problem-focused approach to a more balanced and solution-oriented mindset. It encourages individuals and teams to celebrate their accomplishments, big or small, and learn from their successes.

By engaging in “What Went Well,” organizations can cultivate a positive work environment, boost morale, and inspire further innovation and collaboration. It also serves as a valuable tool for recognizing individual and team strengths, informing future decision-making and goal-setting.

Benefits of the What Went Well Retrospective

The What Went Well retrospective is a valuable practice that offers several benefits to individuals and teams. Let’s explore some of its key advantages:

  • Improves morale: Reflecting on what went well uplifts team spirits and boosts morale. Celebrating achievements and recognizing successful outcomes generates a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction among team members. It creates a positive work environment where individuals feel valued and motivated to continue their efforts.
  • Encourages collaboration: The What Went Well retrospective fosters collaboration and teamwork. It allows team members to share their successes and learn from each other’s achievements. This practice promotes open communication, knowledge sharing, and a sense of camaraderie, which strengthens collaboration within the team.
  • Helps identify areas for improvement: While the What Went Well retrospective focuses on the positive aspects, it also offers insights into areas that can further improve. By examining successful outcomes, teams can identify patterns, strategies, or practices that contribute to their success. This understanding helps in replicating and enhancing those factors in future endeavors.
  • Celebrates strengths and successes: Recognizing what went well highlights individual and team strengths. It allows team members to acknowledge their abilities, expertise, and contributions. By celebrating successes, teams gain a deeper understanding of their capabilities and build confidence in their abilities, fostering a positive mindset for future endeavors.
  • Enhances learning and growth: The What Went Well retrospective encourages a culture of continuous learning and growth. It promotes reflection on past achievements, challenges overcome, and strategies that worked. This reflective practice helps teams capture valuable lessons learned, refine their approaches, and apply insights to future projects, leading to continuous improvement.

How to Conduct a What Went Well Retrospective

Conducting a What Went Well retrospective involves a simple yet impactful process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you conduct one successfully:

  • Set the tone: Begin the retrospective by setting a positive and collaborative tone. Emphasize that the purpose is to focus on the positive aspects and celebrate successes. Encourage open and honest communication, ensuring team members feel safe sharing their thoughts and insights.
  • Gather feedback: Provide each team member with an opportunity to share their reflections on what went well. You can use techniques like written feedback, verbal contributions, or anonymous surveys to gather their thoughts. Encourage individuals to think about specific achievements, milestones, or positive experiences within the defined timeframe.
  • Identify themes: Once the feedback gets collected, gather the team and analyze the responses. Determine the common patterns that appear in the feedback. Group similar ideas or observations together to identify overarching themes. These themes could relate to processes, teamwork, achievements, or any other positive aspects that stood out.
  • Prioritize action items: After identifying the themes, prioritize the action items or areas of focus that can further enhance the positive aspects. Discuss as a team which themes are the most important and have the potential for improvement or continued success. Select a few key action items that align with the team’s goals and priorities.
  • Develop an action plan: With the selected action items in mind, develop a concrete action plan. Define specific steps, responsibilities, and timelines for each action item. Ensure that the plan is practical and achievable within the team’s capacity. Assign accountability for each task to promote ownership and follow-through.
  • Implement and review progress: Put the action plan into motion and implement the identified improvements. Regularly check the progress and provide updates to the team. Celebrate milestones achieved and acknowledge the positive impact of the changes made.
  • Repeat the process: Conduct What Went Well retrospectives regularly to sustain the positive momentum. Each retrospective can build upon the previous one, helping the team continuously improve and celebrate their successes.

The What Went Well retrospective is a powerful tool for teams seeking to enhance performance and cultivate a positive mindset. By focusing on the positives and celebrating achievements, teams can foster a culture of gratitude, collaboration, and continuous improvement. 

Embracing this retrospective practice unlocks valuable insights, promotes team morale, boosts motivation, and drives future success. So, harness the power of What Went Well retrospectives and watch your team soar to new heights of productivity and satisfaction. Remember, when we acknowledge our strengths and accomplishments, the possibilities for growth are limitless.


What are some examples of what went well?

The “What Went Well” retrospective encourages teams to reflect on positive aspects and successes. Here are some examples of what could get considered “what went well” in various contexts:

  • Successful completion of a challenging project within the set timeline.
  • Effective collaboration and teamwork led to exceptional outcomes.
  • Positive feedback or testimonials from satisfied clients or customers.
  • Implementation of innovative solutions that improve efficiency or productivity.
  • Achievement of critical milestones or goals set by the team or organization.
  • Recognition or awards received for outstanding performance or contributions.
  • Seamless integration of new systems or technologies that enhanced operations.
  • Successful resolution of complex issues or challenges faced during a project.
  • Positive impact on customer satisfaction or engagement metrics.
  • Demonstrated growth in revenue, market share, or customer base

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