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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”.

Learning Matrix (#9)

Team members brainstorm in 4 categories to quickly list issues
Source: Agile Retrospectives
After discussing the data from Phase 2 show a flip chart with 4 quadrants labeled ':)', ':(', 'Idea!', and 'Appreciation'. Hand out sticky notes.
  • The team members can add their input to any quadrant. One thought per sticky note.
  • Cluster the notes.
  • Hand out 6-10 dots for people to vote on the most important issues.
This list is your input for Phase 4.

Dot Voting - Keep, Drop, Add (#38)

Brainstorm what behaviors to keep, drop & add and pick the top initiatives
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Divide a flip chart into boxes headed with 'Keep', 'Drop' and 'Add'. Ask your participants to write concrete proposals for each category - 1 idea per index card. Let them write in silence for a few minutes. Let everyone read out their notes and post them to the appropriate category. Lead a short discussion on what the top 20% beneficial ideas are. Vote on it by distributing dots or X's with a marker, e.g. 1, 2, and 3 dots for each person to distribute. The top 2 or 3 become your action items.

SaMoLo (More of, Same of, Less of) (#17)

Get course corrections on what you do as a facilitator
Source: Fairly good practices
Divide a flip chart in 3 sections titled 'More of', 'Same of', and 'Less of'. Ask participants to nudge your behaviour into the right direction: Write stickies with what you should do more, less and what is exactly right. Read out and briefly discuss the stickies section-wise.

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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.