Planning your next agile retrospective? Start with a random plan, change it to fit the team's situation, print it and share the URL. Or browse around for new ideas!

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Plan-ID:
Replaced by JS

Spot the Elephant (#130)

Are there problems nobody talks about?
Source: Willem Larsen
Prepare 1 set of cards per team member. A set of cards contains 1 elephant card, 1 boot card, 1 happy sun card, and 1 moon card. Explain how they each choose one card from their set:
  • If a team member thinks there is at least one 'Elephant in the room' (unspoken but important problem) for this team, then choose the Elephant card. Choosing this card doesn't mean that they have to talk about the Elephant or even say what they think the problem is.
  • If there are no Elephants, but they got their feelings hurt in an interaction at least once since the last retrospective (and didn't mention it), choose the Boot crushing flower card.
  • If everything is hunky dory for them, choose the Happy Sun.
  • If they're uncomfortable sharing, or don't feel like any other card fits, choose the neutral Moon.
To preserve anonymity, everyone places their chosen card face down on the feedback pile and the rest of their sets face down on a discard pile. Shuffle the discard pile to ensure anonymity and put it aside. Shuffle the feedback pile and then reveal the cards one at a time.

If your team has 1 or more Elephants in the room, you have some serious issues with psychological safety. Let the team sit with their new knowledge and offer a larger retrospective soon to make space for them to share if they wish, but do not ask directly who chose what. Preserve the anonymity and do not coerce explanations of the chosen card! This is a critical opportunity to build trust and preserve your ability to gain insight into the state of the team.

In the same way, depending on the size of your team, two or more hurt feelings suggest that you may have safety issues. Two or more Moons also suggests a lack of psychological safety. Take this feedback into consideration when designing your next retro. There are lots of great ways to more thoroughly dive into and surface learnings, this activity just points out when such a retrospective is needed.

Back to the Future (#141)

You take the DeLorean back to the beginning of the project
Source: Dominik Panzer
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?

Repeat for the other two categories.

Original 4 (#55)

Ask Norman Kerth's 4 key questions
Source: Norman Kerth
Norman Kerth, inventor of retrospectives, identified the following 4 questions as key:
  • What did we do well, that if we didn’t discuss we might forget?
  • What did we learn?
  • What should we do differently next time?
  • What still puzzles us?
What are the team's answers?

Outside In (#124)

Turn blaming others into actions owned by the team
Source: Ralph Miarka and Veronika Kotrba
If your team has a tendency to see obstacles outside of their team and influence and primarily wants others to change, you can try this activity:

Draw a big rectangle on the board and another rectangle inside of it, like a picture frame. Hang all complaints and grievances that surfaced in previous phases into the frame.

Now comes the interesting twist: Explain that if they want anything in the outside frame to change, they will have to do something themselves to affect that change. Ask the team to come up with actions they can do. Put these actions into the inner rectangle (near the outer sticky they are addressing).

Debriefing Cube (#138)

Close with a reflective question from the Debriefing Cube and cards
Source: Chris Caswell and Julian Kea
A good debriefing deepens understanding, learning and sharing. Preparation: Download and assemble the Debriefing Cube and cards. During the retrospective, roll the cube. Then draw a card from the category it shows and use it to prompt a discussion. Repeat as time permits. This will broaden your debriefing options and is especially great for groups without a facilitator to enable them to effectively debrief on their own.

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Source:
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.