Surface shared traits and mutual interests among team members Source:
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?
You take the DeLorean back to the beginning of the project Source:
This activity is great for looking at a longer period of time. Put on your storyteller hat and ask your team to imagine the following scenario:
"You are sitting relaxed at your computer working, when suddenly there is a loud bang and a huge cloud of dust is in your room. You cough and as the dust settles, you realize that a car has driven through the wall of your house. You approach cautiously to see what has happened. The car looks futuristic and has gullwing doors. You wipe the dust off the windshield and realize: it's Marty McFly with his DeLorean. He seems unharmed, but is unconscious. You sense your chance and gently push Marty into the passenger seat. The time machine seems to be undamaged. You risk it and travel back to the beginning of your project: Greenfield. Not a single line of code has been written yet. Now you have the possibility to start again from scratch:
What do you definitely keep?
What do you do differently this time?
What were your biggest learnings?"
Give everybody 7 minutes to write down their ideas on sticky notes – 1 idea per sticky. When the time is up, the first person briefly presents their stickies for the first category and posts them on the board for this category. Then the second person presents and so on. Cluster as you go along. What themes do appear?
If your boss had witnessed the last iteration, what would she want you to change? Source:
Imagine your boss had spent the last iteration - unrecognized - among you. What would she think about your interactions and results? What would she want you to change? This setting encourages the team to see themselves from a different angle.
Asking and answering go around the team circle - an excellent way to reach consensus Source:
Everyone sits in a circle. Begin by stating that you'll go round asking questions to find out what you want to do as a group. You start by asking your neighbor the first question, e.g. 'What is the most important thing we should start in the next iteration?' Your neighbor answers and asks her neighbor a related question. Stop when consensus emerges or the time is up. Go around at least once, so that everybody is heard!
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.