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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.

Tell a Story with Shaping Words (#93)

Each participant tells a story about the last iteration that contains certain words
Source: Philip Rogers
Provide everyone with something to write down their story. Then introduce the shaping words, which influence the story to be written:
  • If the last iteration could have been better:
    You set a couple of shaping words, e.g. such as 'mad, sad, glad' or 'keep, drop, add'. Additionally they have to write their story in first person. This avoids blaming others.
  • If the last iteration was successful:
    The team can either choose their own set of words or you can provide random words to unleash the team's creativity.
Now each participant writes a story of no more than 100 words about last iteration. They have to use each shaping word at least once. Timebox this to 5-10 minutes.
When everyone's finished, they read out their stories. Afterwards lead a discussion about common themes of the stories.

Park Bench (#41)

Group discussion with varying subsets of participants
Source: Diana Larsen
Place at least 4 and at most 6 chairs in a row so that they face the group. Explain the rules:
  • Take a bench seat when you want to contribute to the discussion
  • One seat must always be empty
  • When the last seat is taken, someone else must leave and return to the audience
Get everything going by sitting on the 'bench' and wondering aloud about something you learned in the previous phase until someone joins. End the activity when discussion dies down.
This is a variant of 'Fish Bowl'. It's suited for groups of 10-25 people.

Dot Voting - Start, Stop, Continue (#12)

Brainstorm what to start, stop & continue and pick the top initiatives
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Divide a flip chart into boxes headed with 'Start', 'Continue' and 'Stop'. Ask your participants to write concrete proposals for each category - 1 idea per index card. Let them write in silence for a few minutes. Let everyone read out their notes and post them to the appropriate category. Lead a short discussion on what the top 20% beneficial ideas are. Vote on it by distributing dots or X's with a marker, e.g. 1, 2, and 3 dots for each person to distribute. The top 2 or 3 become your action items.

(Check out Paulo Caroli's 'Open the Box' for an awesome variation of this activity.)

Elevenie (#144)

Write a short poem
Source: Stefanie Dinh
An Elevenie (German 'Elfchen') is a poem with 11 words on five lines – 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1 word per line respectively. Only do this with a team in which people enjoy working with each other. It's a wonderful activity to do with a team that is disbanding at the end of a project as a way to commerate the good times.

Hand out pens and paper and read out the instructions:
'We are going to each write a poem with 5 lines. Each line has a specific number of words. Don't worry, I'll guide you through each line, one by one. Write down 1 word that comes to mind when you think about our team (a feeling, a color, ...).
On the next line, describe this feeling with 2 words.
On the next line, add details with 3 words – What is it like? How does it smell or sound? What would you like to add?
On line 4, write down a sentence with 4 words, starting with 'I'. What do you associate with your feeling.
Take a moment to read your poem thus far. What 1 word comes to mind? This is the final word of your poem on line 5.'

Now you can go around and everybody who wants to, can read out their poem. Bring tissues, it can be quite moving.

(#)


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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.