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Weather Report (#2)

Participants mark their 'weather' (mood) on a flipchart
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Prepare a flipchart with a drawing of storm, rain, clouds and sunshine. Each participant marks their mood on the sheet.

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.

BYOSM - Build your own Scrum Master (#94)

The team assembles the perfect SM & takes different points of view
Source: Fabian Schiller
Draw a Scrum Master on a flipchart with three sections on him/her: brain, heart, stomach.
  • Round 1: 'What properties does your perfect SM display?'
    Ask them to silently write down one trait per note. Let participants explain their notes and put them on the drawing.
  • Round 2: 'What does the perfect SM have to know about you as a team so that he/she can work with you well?'
  • Round 3: 'How can you support your SM to do a brilliant job?'
You can adapt this activity for other roles, e.g. BYOProductOwner.

SMART Goals (#13)

Formulate a specific and measurable plan of action
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Introduce SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) and examples for SMART vs not so smart goals, e.g.'We'll study stories before pulling them by talking about them with the product owner each Wednesday at 9am' vs. 'We'll get to know the stories before they are in our sprint backlog'.
Form groups around the issues the team wants to work on. Each group identifies 1-5 concrete steps to reach the goal. Let each group present their results. All participants should agree on the 'SMART-ness' of the goals. Refine and confirm.

Feedback Door - Numbers (ROTI) (#14)

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.

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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.