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?
This is a round-based activity. In each round you ask the team a question, they write down their answers (gives everyone time to think) and then read them out to the others. Questions proposed for Software Development teams:
When was the last time you were really engaged / animated / productive? What did you do? What had happened? How did it feel?
From an application-/code-perspective: What is the awesomest stuff you've built together? What makes it great?
Of the things you built for this company, which has the most value? Why?
When did you work best with the Product Owner? What was good about it?
When was your collaboration best?
What was your most valuable contribution to the developer community (of this company)? How did you do it?
Leave your modesty at the door: What is the most valuable skill / character trait you contribute to the team? Examples?
What is your team's most important trait? What sets you apart?
('Remember the Future' (#37) works well as the next step.)
Different parties present manifestos for change. Who will get your vote? Source:
Is there an election coming up in your country? Use it as a back drop for your team to convince each other of their change initiatives.
Ask the participants to split into political parties with 2 or 3 members. For 20 minutes, each party will work on a manifesto for change. What isn't working? How would they improve things? Afterwards the parties meet again and their leaders present their manifestos. Be prepared for tough questions and heckling! Now plan for a better world! Summarise the manifestos with sticky notes, one color per party. What do the parties agree on? Which promises are unrealistic and which can you achieve?
Introduce SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) and examples for SMART vs not so smart goals, e.g.'We'll study stories before pulling them by talking about them with the product owner each Wednesday at 9am' vs. 'We'll get to know the stories before they are in our sprint backlog'. Form groups around the issues the team wants to work on. Each group identifies 1-5 concrete steps to reach the goal. Let each group present their results. All participants should agree on the 'SMART-ness' of the goals. Refine and confirm.
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.