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Take a Stand - Opening (#43)

Participants take a stand, indicating their satisfaction with the iteration
Source: Corinna Baldauf, inspired by Christoph Pater
Create a big scale (i.e. a long line) on the floor with masking tape. Mark one end as 'Great' and the other as 'Bad'. Let participants stand on the scale according to their satisfaction with the last iteration. Ask people what they notice.
Psychologically, taking a stand physically is different from just saying something. It's more 'real'.
You can reuse the scale if you close with activity #44.

Tell me something I don’t know (#133)

Reveal everyone's hidden knowledge with a game show
Source: Adapted by Kai Alexander Lohr
Instruct participants as follows: ‘There’s a game show called ‘Tell me something I don’t know’. In it a guest states a fact, poses a related question and then the hosts ask questions in order to guess the right answers.

Here’s an example: ‘In the US you always sing along to the national anthem. In Spain no one does. Can you guess why?’ The hosts ask questions such as ‘Does it have to do with the Franco era?’, ‘Are the lyrics in a foreign language e.g. Latin?’ etc. They either guess the answer or the guest reveals it (‘The Spanish anthem doesn’t have any lyrics’).

We’re going to play this game now. Each of you will be the guest once with all the others asking questions. Reflect on the past iteration. Use the next 5 minutes to think of a fact and question.’

The fact has to fulfill 3 criteria. Write them down on a board or reveal a pre-written flipchart:
  1. It must be something that only you know and most other team members don’t know (or are unaware of)
  2. It must be worth knowing
  3. It must be actionable, i. e. have the potential to spark anything along the lines of "Let's do more/less of this.", "Watch out this doesn't happen to you.", "That was awesome. Do try it yourself.", ...
Let them write down their fact on an index card. When everyone is ready, ask the first participant to hang up their index card on the board and present their fact and question to the audience. (People who feel uncomfortable with the game flair don’t have to ask a question. They can also just tell the story around their fact without questions from the ‘audience’.) The audience asks questions to guess the answer. Short discussions are okay. The Scrum Master may also ask questions and gently steer the conversation towards possible actions. Document any actions identified during the discussion on the board. Then move on to the next participant. Use about 5 minutes per participant.

Once all the facts have been presented, the team dot-votes which fact fulfilled the 3 criteria best. The winner receives a framed “Certificate of impressive knowledge”. It documents that “$name has impressed $team with their impressive knowledge”.

The facts and actions can be input for "Generate insight" or use the actions for "Decide what to do”.

Brainstorming / Filtering (#10)

Generate lots of ideas and filter them against your criteria
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Lay out the rules of brainstorming, and the goal: To generate lots of new ideas which will be filtered after the brainstorming.
  • Let people write down their ideas for 5-10 minutes
  • Go around the table repeatedly always asking one idea each, until all ideas are on the flip chart
  • Now ask for filters (e.g. cost, time investment, uniqueness of concept, brand appropriateness, ...). Let the group choose 4.
  • Apply each filter and mark ideas that pass all 4.
  • Which ideas will the group carry forward? Does someone feel strongly about one of the ideas?Otherwise use majority vote.
The selected ideas enter Phase 4.

Pitch (#73)

Ideas for actions compete for 2 available 'Will do'-slots
Source: Judith Andresen
[Caution: This game creates 'winners' and 'losers'. Don't use it if the team has power imbalances.]

Ask everyone to think of 2 changes they'd like to implement and write them down on separate index cards. Draw 2 slots on the board. The first team member puts their favorite change idea into the first slot. His neighbor puts their favorite into the second slot. The third member has to pitch her favorite idea against the one already hanging that she favors less. If the team prefers her idea, it's swapped against the hanging one. This continues until everyone has presented both their cards.

Try not to start the circle with dominant team members.

AHA! (#60)

Throw a ball around and uncover learning
Source: Catherine Louis and Stefan Haas via Amber Haley
Throw a ball (e.g. koosh ball) around the team and uncover positive thoughts and learning experiences. Give out a question at the beginning that people answer when they catch the ball, such as:
  • One thing I learned in the last iteration
  • One awesome thing someone else did for me
Depending on the question it might uncover events that are bugging people. If any alarm bells go off, dig a little deeper. With the '1 nice thing'-question you usually close on a positive note.

(#)


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.