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Emoticon Project Gauge (#32)

Help team members express their feelings about a project and address root causes early
Source: Andrew Ciccarelli
Prepare a flipchart with faces expressing various emotions such as:
  • shocked / surprised
  • nervous / stressed
  • unempowered / constrained
  • confused
  • happy
  • mad
  • overwhelmed
Let each team member choose how they feel about the project. This is a fun and effective way to surface problems early. You can address them in the subsequent phases.

Back to the Future (#141)

You take the DeLorean back to the beginning of the project
Source: Dominik Panzer
This activity is great for looking at a longer period of time. Put on your storyteller hat and ask your team to imagine the following scenario:

"You are sitting relaxed at your computer working, when suddenly there is a loud bang and a huge cloud of dust is in your room. You cough and as the dust settles, you realize that a car has driven through the wall of your house. You approach cautiously to see what has happened. The car looks futuristic and has gullwing doors. You wipe the dust off the windshield and realize: it's Marty McFly with his DeLorean. He seems unharmed, but is unconscious. You sense your chance and gently push Marty into the passenger seat. The time machine seems to be undamaged. You risk it and travel back to the beginning of your project: Greenfield. Not a single line of code has been written yet. Now you have the possibility to start again from scratch:
  • What do you definitely keep?
  • What do you do differently this time?
  • What were your biggest learnings?"
Give everybody 7 minutes to write down their ideas on sticky notes – 1 idea per sticky. When the time is up, the first person briefly presents their stickies for the first category and posts them on the board for this category. Then the second person presents and so on. Cluster as you go along. What themes do appear?

Repeat for the other two categories.

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.

Planning Poker Voting (#99)

Use your Planning Poker cards for un-influenced voting
Source: Andreas Ratsch
If you've got very influential and / or shy team members you can re-use Planning Poker cards to vote simultaneously:

Write all suggested actions on sticky notes and put them onto a wall. Hand out an ordered deck of Planning Poker cards to each participant. Count the proposals and remove that many cards from the back of the card decks. If you've got 5 suggestions you might have cards '1', '2', '3', '5', and '8'. This depends on your deck (some have a '1/2' card). It doesn't matter, as long as all participants have the same set of values.

Explain the rules: Choose a card for each suggestion. Choose a low value if the action is not worth doing in your opinion. Choose a high value if the action is worth starting next iteration.

Give them a minute to sort out their internal ranking and then present the first suggested action. Everybody chooses a card and they reveal them at the same time. Add the numbers from all cards and write the sum onto the action. Remove the used poker cards. Repeat this for all actions. If you have more actions than poker values the players can show 'no card' (counting 0) for the appropriate number of times.

Implement the action with the highest sum in the next iteration. Add more actions only if there's team consensus to do so.

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.