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Check In - Amazon Review (#18)

Review the iteration on Amazon. Don't forget the star rating!
Source: Christian Heiß
Each team member writes a short review with:
  • Title
  • Content
  • Star rating (5 stars is the best)
Everyone reads out their review. Record the star ratings on a flip chart.
Can span whole retrospective by also asking what is recommended about the iteration and what not.

Avoid Waste (#135)

Tackle the 7 Wastes of Software Development
Source: Tony O'Halloran
This activity facilitates a broad discussion around waste, using the 7 Wastes of Software Development from Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck.

Prepare the room with 7 flip-chart sheets, each representing a category of waste. Be sure to give enough room for small groups to stand around them, so spread the sheets out across the room!

The 7 categories of waste are:
  1. Partially Done Work
    Is work going from beginning to end in a single rapid flow? For example; are you building up large amounts of untested or undeployed work? Do you have long-lived feature branches?
  2. Extra Features
    Do your customers or users actually need what you’re building?
  3. Relearning
    Do you spend a lot of time rediscovering what you (or someone else on your team) already knew at one time?
  4. Handoffs
    Is your team truly collaborating, or handing off bits of work to each other, losing tacit knowledge in the process?
  5. Delays
    Does work typically spend lots of time stalled awaiting things like environments, someone to be available, or decisions to be made?
  6. Task Switching
    Do you find that you lose time to context switching frequently?
  7. Defects
    Does your team have a low defect rate? How late in the development process do you find defects? Could this feedback loop be shorter?
To start, briefly describe each of the different types of waste (more in-depth information here). Then pose the core questions:

In which situations do we incur this type of waste?
Where do we do a good job of avoiding this type of waste?

Break into groups of 2-3 people, preferably with a mix of roles in the groups. This helps to build awareness of the waste everyone else is dealing with on your team. Then, each group selects their first topic and spends a short amount of time writing post-its to answer the two questions above. Limit it to 2 or 3 minutes per topic and 2 post-its per person for each topic to avoid getting swamped with data. When the timebox is up, each group cycles to the next category until everyone has had an opportunity to contribute to each.

What themes are emerging? What do participants notice? Use dot-voting to decide which topics are important enough to further discuss in the next phase.

Brainstorming / Filtering (#10)

Generate lots of ideas and filter them against your criteria
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Lay out the rules of brainstorming, and the goal: To generate lots of new ideas which will be filtered after the brainstorming.
  • Let people write down their ideas for 5-10 minutes
  • Go around the table repeatedly always asking one idea each, until all ideas are on the flip chart
  • Now ask for filters (e.g. cost, time investment, uniqueness of concept, brand appropriateness, ...). Let the group choose 4.
  • Apply each filter and mark ideas that pass all 4.
  • Which ideas will the group carry forward? Does someone feel strongly about one of the ideas?Otherwise use majority vote.
The selected ideas enter Phase 4.

Take a Stand - Line Dance (#48)

Get a sense of everyone's position and reach consensus
Source: Nick Oostvogels
When the team can't decide between two options, create a big scale (i.e. a long line) on the floor with masking tape. Mark one end as option A) and the other as option B). Team members position themselves on the scale according to their preference for either option. Now tweak the options until one option has a clear majority.

Helped, Hindered, Hypothesis (#16)

Get concrete feedback on how you facilitated
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Prepare 3 flip chart papers titled 'Helped', 'Hindered', and 'Hypothesis' (suggestions for things to try out). Ask participants to help you grow and improve as a facilitator by writing you sticky notes and signing their initials so that you may ask questions later.

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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. As Integral Coach and Agile Coach he coaches executives, managers, product owners and scrum masters. 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.