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ESVP (#1)

How do participants feel at the retro: Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer, or Prisoner?
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Prepare a flipchart with areas for E, S, V, and P. Explain the concept:
  • Explorer: Eager to dive in and research what did and didn't work and how to improve.
  • Shopper: Positive attitude. Happy if one good things comes out.
  • Vacationer: Reluctant to actively take part but the retro beats the regular work.
  • Prisoner: Only attend because they (feel they) must.
Take a poll (anonymously on slips of paper). Count out the answers and keep track on the flipchart for all to see. If trust is low, deliberately destroy the votes afterwards to ensure privacy. Ask what people make of the data. If there's a majority of Vacationers or Prisoners consider using the retro to discuss this finding.

Avoid Waste (#135)

Tackle the 7 Wastes of Software Development
Source: Tony O'Halloran
This activity facilitates a broad discussion around waste, using the 7 Wastes of Software Development from Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck.

Prepare the room with 7 flip-chart sheets, each representing a category of waste. Be sure to give enough room for small groups to stand around them, so spread the sheets out across the room!

The 7 categories of waste are:
  1. Partially Done Work
    Is work going from beginning to end in a single rapid flow? For example; are you building up large amounts of untested or undeployed work? Do you have long-lived feature branches?
  2. Extra Features
    Do your customers or users actually need what you’re building?
  3. Relearning
    Do you spend a lot of time rediscovering what you (or someone else on your team) already knew at one time?
  4. Handoffs
    Is your team truly collaborating, or handing off bits of work to each other, losing tacit knowledge in the process?
  5. Delays
    Does work typically spend lots of time stalled awaiting things like environments, someone to be available, or decisions to be made?
  6. Task Switching
    Do you find that you lose time to context switching frequently?
  7. Defects
    Does your team have a low defect rate? How late in the development process do you find defects? Could this feedback loop be shorter?
To start, briefly describe each of the different types of waste (more in-depth information here). Then pose the core questions:

In which situations do we incur this type of waste?
Where do we do a good job of avoiding this type of waste?

Break into groups of 2-3 people, preferably with a mix of roles in the groups. This helps to build awareness of the waste everyone else is dealing with on your team. Then, each group selects their first topic and spends a short amount of time writing post-its to answer the two questions above. Limit it to 2 or 3 minutes per topic and 2 post-its per person for each topic to avoid getting swamped with data. When the timebox is up, each group cycles to the next category until everyone has had an opportunity to contribute to each.

What themes are emerging? What do participants notice? Use dot-voting to decide which topics are important enough to further discuss in the next phase.

Company Map (#68)

Draw a map of the company as if it was a country
Source: Judith Andresen
Hand out pens and paper. Pose the question 'What if the company / department / team was territory? What would a map for it look like? What hints would you add for save travelling?' Let participants draw for 5-10 minutes. Hang up the drawings. Walk through each one to clarify and discuss interesting metaphors.

Circle of Questions (#11)

Asking and answering go around the team circle - an excellent way to reach consensus
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Everyone sits in a circle. Begin by stating that you'll go round asking questions to find out what you want to do as a group. You start by asking your neighbor the first question, e.g. 'What is the most important thing we should start in the next iteration?' Your neighbor answers and asks her neighbor a related question. Stop when consensus emerges or the time is up. Go around at least once, so that everybody is heard!

Feedback Door - Numbers (ROTI) (#14)

Gauge participants' satisfaction with the retro on a scale from 1 to 5 in minimum time
Source: ALE 2011, Corinna Baldauf
Put sticky notes on the door with the numbers 1 through 5 on them. 1 is the topmost and best, 5 the lowest and worst.When ending the retrospective, ask your participants to put a sticky to the number they feel reflects the session. The sticky can be empty or have a comment or suggestion on it.

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Retromat contains 127 activities, allowing for 8349005 combinations (25x30x22x22x23+5) and we are constantly adding more.

Created by Corinna Baldauf

Corinna wished for something like Retromat during her Scrummaster years. Eventually she just built it herself in the hope that it would be useful to others, too. Any questions, suggestions or encouragement? You can email her or follow her on Twitter. If you like Retromat you might also like Corinna's blog and her summaries on Wall-Skills.com.

Co-developed by Timon Fiddike

Timon gives Scrum trainings. He mentors advanced scrum masters and advanced product owners. Human, dad, nerd, contact improv & tango dancer. He has used Retromat since 2013 and started to build new features in 2016. You can email him or follow him on Twitter. Photo © Ina Abraham.