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What kind of X? (#140)

Participants give a metaphor for the iteration
Source: Unknown via Corinna Baldauf
Start by asking "If this iteration was an X, what kind of X would it be?" This question has endless variations from "If the iteration was a animal, what animal would it be?" over cocktails and furniture to plants and "If the iteration was a car, what car would it be?"

Ask everybody to write down their answer on a sticky note. Go around the team, everybody reads out their note and posts it on a board. Briefly discuss the answers. After all it's a difference if the iteration were "a BMW, but the brakes don't work" or a "red 2004 Toyota Prius". What does it mean to the people who wrote it down?

Tell a Story with Shaping Words (#93)

Each participant tells a story about the last iteration that contains certain words
Source: Philip Rogers
Provide everyone with something to write down their story. Then introduce the shaping words, which influence the story to be written:
  • If the last iteration could have been better:
    You set a couple of shaping words, e.g. such as 'mad, sad, glad' or 'keep, drop, add'. Additionally they have to write their story in first person. This avoids blaming others.
  • If the last iteration was successful:
    The team can either choose their own set of words or you can provide random words to unleash the team's creativity.
Now each participant writes a story of no more than 100 words about last iteration. They have to use each shaping word at least once. Timebox this to 5-10 minutes.
When everyone's finished, they read out their stories. Afterwards lead a discussion about common themes of the stories.

Poster Session (#91)

Split a large group into smaller ones that create posters
Source: Unknown, adapted by Corinna Baldauf, inspired by Michal Grzeskowiak
After you've identified an important topic in the previous phase you can now go into detail. Have the larger group split up into groups of 2-4 people that will each prepare a poster (flip chart) to present to the other groups. If you have identified more than one main topic, let the team members select on which they want to work further.
Give the teams guidelines about what the posters should cover / answer, such as:
  • What exactly happens? Why is that a problem?
  • Why / when / how does this situation happen?
  • Who benefits from the current situation? What is the benefit?
  • Possible solutions (with Pros and Cons)
  • Who could help change the situation?
  • ... whatever is appropriate in your setting ...
The groups have 15-20 minutes to discuss and create their posters. Afterwards gather and each group gets 2 minutes to present their results.

Circle of Questions (#11)

Asking and answering go around the team circle - an excellent way to reach consensus
Source: Agile Retrospectives
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!

Elevenie (#144)

Write a short poem
Source: Stefanie Dinh
An Elevenie (German 'Elfchen') is a poem with 11 words on five lines – 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1 word per line respectively. Only do this with a team in which people enjoy working with each other. It's a wonderful activity to do with a team that is disbanding at the end of a project as a way to commerate the good times.

Hand out pens and paper and read out the instructions:
'We are going to each write a poem with 5 lines. Each line has a specific number of words. Don't worry, I'll guide you through each line, one by one. Write down 1 word that comes to mind when you think about our team (a feeling, a color, ...).
On the next line, describe this feeling with 2 words.
On the next line, add details with 3 words – What is it like? How does it smell or sound? What would you like to add?
On line 4, write down a sentence with 4 words, starting with 'I'. What do you associate with your feeling.
Take a moment to read your poem thus far. What 1 word comes to mind? This is the final word of your poem on line 5.'

Now you can go around and everybody who wants to, can read out their poem. Bring tissues, it can be quite moving.

(#)


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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.