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Give me a face (#114)

Participants show how they feel by drawing a face on a tangerine
Source: Afagh Zadeh
Each team member gets a sharpie and a tangerine with a sticky note asking: 'How do you feel? Please give me a face'. After all are done drawing you go around and compare the works of art and emotions. It's a light-hearted way to set the stage.

Movie Critic (#110)

Imagine your last iteration was a movie and write a review about it
Source: Isabel Corniche
Introduce the activity by asking: Imagine your last iteration was a movie and you had to write a review:
  • What was the genre of the movie (e.g. horror, drama, ...)?
  • What was the (central) theme? Describe in 2-3 words.
  • Was there a big twist (e.g. a bad guy)?
  • What was the ending like (e.g. happy-end, cliffhanger) and did you expect it?
  • What was your personal highlight?
  • Would you recommend it to a colleague?
Give each team member a piece of paper and 5 minutes to silently ponder the questions. In the meantime (or before the session) divide a flip chart in 7 columns headed with 'Genre', 'Theme', 'Twist', 'Ending', 'Expected?', 'Highlight', 'Recommend?'. When everyone has finished writing, fill out the flip chart while each participant reads out their notes.
Afterwards look at the finished table and lead a discussion about
  • What's standing out?
  • What patterns do you see? What do they mean for you as a team?
  • Suggestions on how to continue?

Brainwriting (#66)

Written brainstorming levels the playing field for introverts
Source: Prof. Bernd Rohrbach
Pose a central question, such as 'What actions should we take in the next iteration to improve?'. Hand out paper and pens. Everybody writes down their ideas. After 3 minutes everyone passes their paper to their neighbour and continues to write on the one they've gotten. As soon as they run out of ideas, they can read the ideas that are already on the paper and extend them. Rules: No negative comments and everyone writes their ideas down only once. (If several people write down the same idea, that's okay.)
Pass the papers every 3 minutes until everyone had every paper. Pass one last time. Now everyone reads their paper and picks the top 3 ideas. Collect all top 3's on a flip chart for the next phase.

Circles & Soup / Circle of Influence (#29)

Create actions based on how much control the team has to carry them out
Source: Diana Larsen who adapted it from 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey and Circle of Influence and Concern' by Jim Bullock
Prepare a flip chart with 3 concentric circles, each big enough to put stickies in. Label them 'Team controls - Direct action', 'Team influences - Persuasive/recommending action' and 'The soup - Response action', from innermost to outermost circle respectively. ('The soup' denotes the wider system the team is embedded into.) Take your insights from the last phase and put them in the appropriate circle.
The participants write down possible actions in pairs of two. Encourage them to concentrate on issues in their circle of influence. The pairs post their action plans next to the respective issue and read it out loud. Agree on which plans to try (via discussion, majority vote, dot voting, ...)

Helped, Hindered, Hypothesis (#16)

Get concrete feedback on how you facilitated
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Prepare 3 flip chart papers titled 'Helped', 'Hindered', and 'Hypothesis' (suggestions for things to try out). Ask participants to help you grow and improve as a facilitator by writing you sticky notes and signing their initials so that you may ask questions later.

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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. As Integral Coach and Agile Coach he coaches executives, managers, product owners and scrum masters. 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.