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Appreciative Goal (#36)

State an affirmative goal for the session
Source: Diana Larsen
Concentrate on positive aspects instead of problems by setting an affirmative goal, e.g.
  • Let's find ways to amplify our strengths in process and teamwork
  • Let's find out how to extend our best uses of engineering practices and methods
  • We'll look at our best working relationships and find ways to build more relationships like that
  • We'll discover where we added the most value during our last iteration to increase the value we'll add during the next

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.

Remember the Future (#37)

Imagine the next iteration is perfect. What is it like? What did you do?
Source: Luke Hohmann
'Imagine you could time travel to the end of the next iteration (or release). You learn that it was the best, most productive iteration yet! How do your future selves describe it? What do you see and hear?' Give the team a little time to imagine this state and jot down some keywords to aid their memory. Then let everyone describe their vision of a perfect iteration.
Follow up with 'What changes did we implement that resulted in such a productive and satisfying future?'Write down the answers on index cards to use in the next phase.

Three by Three (#125)

Build on each other's ideas to create a great action item
Source: Simon Tomes
This silent brainstorming technique helps the team come up with truly creative solutions and gives quiet people equal footing:

  • Everyone writes 3 sticky notes with 1 action idea each
  • Go around the room and pitch each idea in 15 seconds
  • Gather all stickies so that everyone can see them
  • Each team member adds their name to the sticky note that inspires them the most
  • Take off all ideas without a name on them
Repeat this process 2 more times. Afterwards, everyone can dot vote to determine which action(s) the team is going to implement.

Elevenie (#144)

Write a short poem
Source: Stefanie Dinh
An Elevenie (German 'Elfchen') is a poem with 11 words on five lines – 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1 word per line respectively. Only do this with a team in which people enjoy working with each other. It's a wonderful activity to do with a team that is disbanding at the end of a project as a way to commerate the good times.

Hand out pens and paper and read out the instructions:
'We are going to each write a poem with 5 lines. Each line has a specific number of words. Don't worry, I'll guide you through each line, one by one. Write down 1 word that comes to mind when you think about our team (a feeling, a color, ...).
On the next line, describe this feeling with 2 words.
On the next line, add details with 3 words – What is it like? How does it smell or sound? What would you like to add?
On line 4, write down a sentence with 4 words, starting with 'I'. What do you associate with your feeling.
Take a moment to read your poem thus far. What 1 word comes to mind? This is the final word of your poem on line 5.'

Now you can go around and everybody who wants to, can read out their poem. Bring tissues, it can be quite moving.

(#)


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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. 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.