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String Theory (#129)

Surface shared traits and mutual interests among team members
Source: Eben Halford
This is an excellent activity for newly formed teams of 6 to 15 members. It speeds up team building by sharing traits and interests so that team members can build closer bonds than possible with just work-related stuff.

Have the team form a circle with everyone looking inwards. Leave about a foot of space between people. Depending on what you want to stress with this activity, you can ask colleagues that usually work remotely to stand about 5 feet away from the circle.

Hand a ball of yarn to a random player and tell them to hold on tight to the end of the yarn with their non-dominant hand and the ball in the dominant one. The yarn holder starts the game by saying something about themselves that is not work-related such as 'I have a daughter' or 'I play the guitar'. If this statement is true for any other team member they raise their hand and say 'Yes, that's me'. The yarn holder passes the ball to the person who raised their hand. If there's more than one, the yarn holder can choose one. If no one shares the statement the yarn holder has to make another statement.

The person who received the ball of yarn holds on to the thread and tautens it. This is the first connection in a network of shared traits. The new yarn holder now makes a statement about themselves, passes the ball while holding on to their part of the yarn and so on.

The game ends when time is up OR everybody has at least two connections OR the yarn runs out.

You can debrief with some of these questions:
  • What did you notice?
  • If you've got remote people: How does it feel to stand apart? How does it feel to have someone stand apart?
  • How do you feel about few (or no) connections?
  • What is it like to see this web of connections?
  • Can you be a team without this web?
  • What would happen if someone let go of their threads? How would it affect the team?
  • Is there anything you will do differently at work now?

This activity is only the first part of a longer game.

Genie in a Bottle (#116)

Playfully explore unmet needs
Source: Özer Özker & Anke Bartels
Present the following scenario to the participants: You have freed a genie from its bottle and you're granted the customary 3 wishes. What do you wish for? Please make
  • one wish for yourself
  • one wish for your team
  • one wish for all the people in the world
Cheating (i.e. wishing for more wishes or more genies) is not allowed!

Let everybody present their wishes. Optionally you can then dot-vote on the best or most appreciated wishes.

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)

Merge (#21)

Condense many possible actions down to just two the team will try
Source: Lydia Grawunder & Sebastian Nachtigall
Hand out index cards and markers. Tell everyone to write down the two actions they want to try next iteration - as concretely as possible (SMART). Then everyone pairs up with their neighbor and both together must merge their actions into a single list with two actions. The pairs form groups of 4. Then 8. Now collect every group's two action items and have a vote on the final two.

SaMoLo (More of, Same of, Less of) (#17)

Get course corrections on what you do as a facilitator
Source: Fairly good practices
Divide a flip chart in 3 sections titled 'More of', 'Same of', and 'Less of'. Ask participants to nudge your behaviour into the right direction: Write stickies with what you should do more, less and what is exactly right. Read out and briefly discuss the stickies section-wise.

(#)


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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.