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.
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.)
What would make the next iteration a perfect 10 out of 10? Source:
Prepare a flip chart with 2 columns, a slim one for 'Rating' and a wide one for 'Actions'. Everyone rates the last iteration on a scale from 1 to 10. Then they have to suggest what action(s) would make the next iteration a perfect 10.
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.
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.