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Who said it? (#106)

Attribute quotes to team members and situations
Source: Beccy Stafford
Before the retro, spend some time looking through email threads, chat logs, ticket discussions, and the like. Collect quotes from the last iteration: Funny quotes, or quotes which without context sound a little odd. Write them down with the name of the person who said them.

Read out the quotes at the beginning of the retro, and ask the team to guess who said it - the source may not self-identify! Often the team will not only know who said it, but also talk about what was going on at the time.

Roles and Responsibilities (#146)

Clarify expectations and responsibilities for each role on the team
Source: Role-Up
Many conflicts arise from unclear expectations. Talking about individual people can feel like an attack. That’s why this activity focusses on expectations towards roles.

Create a table with one column per role in the team. (Limit it to 7 columns. If there are more than 7 roles, leave out roles that have little conflict.) The rows of the table are: 

  • Role name
  • This role is responsible for …
  • This role is NOT responsible for …
Leave enough space between the bottom rows so that people who aren’t sure whether something is a role’s responsibility have an unofficial inbetween space to post them. Hand out pens, as well as yellow and orange sticky notes.

Ask everyone to write yellow sticky notes listing the responsibilities for each role – 1 responsibility per note. Set a timer for 8 minutes and read the room to see if you can stop early or have to give more time. Post all the sticky notes but don’t discuss them yet.

Repeat this process with the non-responsibilities on orange sticky notes.

The team now dot-vote on which topics they want to talk about. Give enough time to read all the sticky notes and distribute 7 votes.

Start with the topic with the most votes. Invite the people who voted for it to share why they want to talk about it. Try to clarify expectations team members have about a role’s responsibilities. Write down clarifications or agreements the team make. Repeat for the next highest voted topic until time runs out.

Set Course (#113)

Imagine you're on a voyage - Cliffs and treasures await
Source: Katrin Dreyer
Imagine you're navigating a boat instead of a product or service. Ask the crew the following questions:
  1. Where is a treasure to be found? (New things worth trying)
  2. Where is a cliff to be safe from? (What makes the team worry)
  3. Keep course for ... (What existing processes go well?)
  4. Change course for... (What existing processes go badly)

Three by Three (#125)

Build on each other's ideas to create a great action item
Source: Simon Tomes
This silent brainstorming technique helps the team come up with truly creative solutions and gives quiet people equal footing:

  • Everyone writes 3 sticky notes with 1 action idea each
  • Go around the room and pitch each idea in 15 seconds
  • Gather all stickies so that everyone can see them
  • Each team member adds their name to the sticky note that inspires them the most
  • Take off all ideas without a name on them
Repeat this process 2 more times. Afterwards, everyone can dot vote to determine which action(s) the team is going to implement.

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.