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Positive and True (#122)

Boost everyones energy with a tailored question
Source: Veronika Kotrba and Ralph Miarka, adapted from Nancy Kline
Think of a question that is tailored to get a response that is positive, true and about their own experiences, e.g.
  • What have you done really well in the last iteration?
  • What is something that makes you really happy?
  • What were you most happy about yesterday?
Ask your neighbor the question. Then your neighbor asks their neighbor on the other side the same question and so on until everyone has answered and asked.

This will give everyone a boost and lead to a better retro.

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.

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, ...)

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.