Write down what you can never ever say out loud Source: Unknown, via Vanessa
Do you suspect that unspoken taboos are holding back the team? Consider this silent activity: Stress confidentiality ('What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas') and announce that all notes of this activity will be destroyed in the end. Only afterwards hand out a piece of paper to each participant to write down the biggest unspoken taboo in the company. When everyone's done, they pass their paper to their left-hand neighbors. The neighbors read and may add comments. Papers are passed on and on until they return to their authors. One last read. Then all pages are ceremoniously shredded or (if you're outside) burned.
Each team member explores one topic in depth in a series of 1:1 talks Source: Thorsten Kalnin
Each participant writes down one topic they want to explore, i.e. something they'd like to change. Then form pairs and spread across the room. Each pair discusses both topics and ponders possible actions - 5 minutes per participant (topic) - one after the other. After 10 minutes the pairs break up to form new pairs. Continue until everyone has talked to everyone else. If the group has an odd number of members, the facilitator is part of a pair but the partner gets all 10 minutes for their topic.
If your team has a tendency to see obstacles outside of their team and influence and primarily wants others to change, you can try this activity:
Draw a big rectangle on the board and another rectangle inside of it, like a picture frame. Hang all complaints and grievances that surfaced in previous phases into the frame.
Now comes the interesting twist: Explain that if they want anything in the outside frame to change, they will have to do something themselves to affect that change. Ask the team to come up with actions they can do. Put these actions into the inner rectangle (near the outer sticky they are addressing).
Gauge participants' satisfaction with the retro in minimum time using smilies Source: Boeffi
Draw a ':)', ':|', and ':(' on a sheet of paper and tape it against the door. When ending the retrospective, ask your participants to mark their satisfaction with the session with an 'x' below the applicable smily.