The Happiness Radar is very useful for opening a retrospective while narrowing down its context. It establishes a sequence for the retrospective, so participants first hear about people’s feelings (on happiness) before going into a data gathering activity.

Running the activity:

  1. Decide and draw the target areas for collecting feedback on happiness (as table row titles). One suggestion is to have rows for people, technology, and processes.
    “For the given context, I would like to know your feelings for each of these areas.”
  2. Draw the happy/ok/sad faces (as table column titles).
  3. Ask the team to place their marks on the canvas:
    “So, for each of the areas, please let us know how you felt on average. For instance, if you are always sad regarding technology, please make one mark on the technology/sad combination.”
  4. Optionally, decide upon sticky note color (for targeted areas) to use it as a color code for the activity that will come next.


Note that the target areas selected (row titles) should be very specific for the retrospective context and will influence the activities (and conversation) to follow.

It is really important to acknowledge how people feel, especially for a retrospective meeting. However, it is not easy for people to talk about emotions and it is even harder for them to connect emotions to the things that made them feel this way. The happiness radar provides a structure that helps with both.

We recommend you use the happiness radar activity with the same team periodically, keeping track of its results so you can compare how the team is feeling over time.


Remote-team advice: This activity works well for remote teams. Use a remote board of your choice.

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