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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?
    When someone answers something that alerts you such as "help" or "protection", you have to react to that e. g. with "Is there something we can do right now to help?" oder "What kind of protection?"
  • 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.

Roles and Responsibilities (#146)

Clarify expectations and responsibilities for each role on the team
Source: Role-Up
Many conflicts arise from unclear expectations. Talking about individual people can feel like an attack. That’s why this activity focusses on expectations towards roles.

Create a table with one column per role in the team. (Limit it to 7 columns. If there are more than 7 roles, leave out roles that have little conflict.) The rows of the table are: 

  • Role name
  • This role is responsible for …
  • This role is NOT responsible for …
Leave enough space between the bottom rows so that people who aren’t sure whether something is a role’s responsibility have an unofficial inbetween space to post them. Hand out pens, as well as yellow and orange sticky notes.

Ask everyone to write yellow sticky notes listing the responsibilities for each role – 1 responsibility per note. Set a timer for 8 minutes and read the room to see if you can stop early or have to give more time. Post all the sticky notes but don’t discuss them yet.

Repeat this process with the non-responsibilities on orange sticky notes.

The team now dot-vote on which topics they want to talk about. Give enough time to read all the sticky notes and distribute 7 votes.

Start with the topic with the most votes. Invite the people who voted for it to share why they want to talk about it. Try to clarify expectations team members have about a role’s responsibilities. Write down clarifications or agreements the team make. Repeat for the next highest voted topic until time runs out.

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.

Circles & Soup / Circle of Influence (#29)

Create actions based on how much control the team has to carry them out
Source: Diana Larsen who adapted it from 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey and 'Circle of Influence and Concern' by Jim Bullock
Prepare a flip chart with 3 concentric circles, each big enough to put stickies in. Label them 'Team controls - Direct action', 'Team influences - Persuasive/recommending action' and 'The soup - Response action', from innermost to outermost circle respectively. ('The soup' denotes the wider system the team is embedded into.) Take your insights from the last phase and put them in the appropriate circle.
The participants write down possible actions in pairs of two. Encourage them to concentrate on issues in their circle of influence. The pairs post their action plans next to the respective issue and read it out loud. Agree on which plans to try (via discussion, majority vote, dot voting, ...)

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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Source:
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.