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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.

Like to like (#6)

Participants match quality cards to their own Start-Stop-Continue-proposals
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Preparation: ca. 20 quality cards, i.e. colored index cards with unique words such as fun, on time, clear, meaningful, awesome, dangerous, nasty
Each team member has to write at least 9 index cards: 3 each with things to start doing, keep doing and stop doing. Choose one person to be the first judge. The judge turns the first quality card. From their own cards each member chooses the best match for this word and places it face down on the table.The last one to choose has to take their card back on their hand. The judge shuffles all submitted cards, turns them one by one and rules the best fit = winning card. All submitted cards are discarded. The submitter of the winning card receives the quality card. The person left of the judge becomes the new judge.
Stop when everyone runs out of cards (6-9 rounds). Whoever has the most quality cards wins. Debrief by asking for takeaways.
(Game is based on 'Apples to Apples')

Election Manifesto (#105)

Different parties present manifestos for change. Who will get your vote?
Source: Thomas Guest
Is there an election coming up in your country? Use it as a back drop for your team to convince each other of their change initiatives.

Ask the participants to split into political parties with 2 or 3 members. For 20 minutes, each party will work on a manifesto for change. What isn't working? How would they improve things?
Afterwards the parties meet again and their leaders present their manifestos. Be prepared for tough questions and heckling!
Now plan for a better world! Summarise the manifestos with sticky notes, one color per party. What do the parties agree on? Which promises are unrealistic and which can you achieve?

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.

Constellation - Closing (#53)

Let the participants rate the retrospective by moving around
Source: Lyssa Adkins via Luis Goncalves, Christoph Pater
Place a circle or sphere in the middle of a free space. Let the team gather around it. Explain that the circle is the center of approval: If they agree to a statement they should move towards it, if they don't, they should move as far outwards as their degree of disagreement. Now read out statements, e.g.
  • We talked about what was most important to me
  • I spoke openly today
  • I think the time of the retrospective was well invested
  • I am confident we will carry out our action items
Watch the constellations unfold. Any surprising constellations?
This can also be an opening activity (#52).

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Retromat contains 127 activities, allowing for 8349005 combinations (25x30x22x22x23+5) and we are constantly adding more.

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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.

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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.