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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.

Watermelon (#142)

How is your project really doing?
Source: Sabina Lammert
A disconnect between the actual state of a project and a too positive external view on it, can be dangerous. The longer the disconnect lasts and the wider the gap, the harder it becomes to address: Let’s look for gaps.

In this activity you compare internal and external view on progress and project state. Prepare a flipchart with a large watermelon cut through, red with seeds on the inside, yellow and green rings on the outside. Write “How does our project look internally?” inside the melon and “How does it appear on the outside?” outside of the green ring.

Prepare a second flip chart with some seeds above and caption them “Which bothersome seeds would we like to get rid of?”. Then draw a seedling captioned “What potential can we spot?” lower on the flipchart.

During the retro present the first flipchart and ask the questions. Let participants write their take on sticky notes – 1 comment per note. Then go around with each person reading out their note and posting in the appropriate spot. Have a short discussion on your observations.

Repeat this with the second flipchart and set of questions. In this round, allow more time for more in-depth discussion. If necessary, provide structure with Lean Coffee (#51).

5 Whys (#8)

Drill down to the root cause of problems by repeatedly asking 'Why?'
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Divide the participants into small groups (<= 4 people) and give each group one of the top identified issues. Instructions for the group:
  • One person asks the others 'Why did that happen?' repeatedly to find the root cause or a chain of events
  • Record the root causes (often the answer to the 5th 'Why?')
Let the groups share their findings.

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.

(#)


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. 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.