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.
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 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).
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.