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Check In - Quick Question (#3)

Ask one question that each participant answers in turn
Source: Agile Retrospectives
In round-robin each participant answers the same question (unless they say 'I pass'). Sample questions:
  • In one word - What do you need from this retrospective?
  • Address concerns, e.g. by writing them down and setting them - physically and mentally - aside
  • What's something that caused problems last iteration?
  • If you could change one thing about the last iteration what would it be?

Avoid evaluating comments such as 'Great'. 'Thanks' is okay.

Tell me something I don’t know (#133)

Reveal everyone's hidden knowledge with a game show
Source: Adapted by Kai Alexander Lohr
Instruct participants as follows: ‘There’s a game show called ‘Tell me something I don’t know’. In it a guest states a fact, poses a related question and then the hosts ask questions in order to guess the right answers.

Here’s an example: ‘In the US you always sing along to the national anthem. In Spain no one does. Can you guess why?’ The hosts ask questions such as ‘Does it have to do with the Franco era?’, ‘Are the lyrics in a foreign language e.g. Latin?’ etc. They either guess the answer or the guest reveals it (‘The Spanish anthem doesn’t have any lyrics’).

We’re going to play this game now. Each of you will be the guest once with all the others asking questions. Reflect on the past iteration. Use the next 5 minutes to think of a fact and question.’

The fact has to fulfill 3 criteria. Write them down on a board or reveal a pre-written flipchart:
  1. It must be something that only you know and most other team members don’t know (or are unaware of)
  2. It must be worth knowing
  3. It must be actionable, i. e. have the potential to spark anything along the lines of "Let's do more/less of this.", "Watch out this doesn't happen to you.", "That was awesome. Do try it yourself.", ...
Let them write down their fact on an index card. When everyone is ready, ask the first participant to hang up their index card on the board and present their fact and question to the audience. (People who feel uncomfortable with the game flair don’t have to ask a question. They can also just tell the story around their fact without questions from the ‘audience’.) The audience asks questions to guess the answer. Short discussions are okay. The Scrum Master may also ask questions and gently steer the conversation towards possible actions. Document any actions identified during the discussion on the board. Then move on to the next participant. Use about 5 minutes per participant.

Once all the facts have been presented, the team dot-votes which fact fulfilled the 3 criteria best. The winner receives a framed “Certificate of impressive knowledge”. It documents that “$name has impressed $team with their impressive knowledge”.

The facts and actions can be input for "Generate insight" or use the actions for "Decide what to do”.

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.

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.