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Constellation - Opening (#52)

Let the participants affirm or reject statements by moving around
Source: Lyssa Adkins via Luis Goncalves
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.
  • I feel I can talk openly in this retrospective
  • I am satisfied with the last iteration
  • I am happy with the quality of our code
  • I think our continuous integration process is mature
Watch the constellations unfold. Ask questions about people's observations, such as which constellations were surprising.
This can also be a closing activity (#53).

Appreciative Inquiry (#65)

Lift everyone's spirit with positive questions
Source: Doug Bradbury, adapted for SW development by Corinna Baldauf
This is a round-based activity. In each round you ask the team a question, they write down their answers (gives everyone time to think) and then read them out to the others.
Questions proposed for Software Development teams:
  1. When was the last time you were really engaged / animated / productive? What did you do? What had happened? How did it feel?
  2. From an application-/code-perspective: What is the awesomest stuff you've built together? What makes it great?
  3. Of the things you built for this company, which has the most value? Why?
  4. When did you work best with the Product Owner? What was good about it?
  5. When was your collaboration best?
  6. What was your most valuable contribution to the developer community (of this company)? How did you do it?
  7. Leave your modesty at the door: What is the most valuable skill / character trait you contribute to the team? Examples?
  8. What is your team's most important trait? What sets you apart?

('Remember the Future' (#37) works well as the next step.)

Poster Session (#91)

Split a large group into smaller ones that create posters
Source: Unknown, adapted by Corinna Baldauf, inspired by Michal Grzeskowiak
After you've identified an important topic in the previous phase you can now go into detail. Have the larger group split up into groups of 2-4 people that will each prepare a poster (flip chart) to present to the other groups. If you have identified more than one main topic, let the team members select on which they want to work further.
Give the teams guidelines about what the posters should cover / answer, such as:
  • What exactly happens? Why is that a problem?
  • Why / when / how does this situation happen?
  • Who benefits from the current situation? What is the benefit?
  • Possible solutions (with Pros and Cons)
  • Who could help change the situation?
  • ... whatever is appropriate in your setting ...
The groups have 15-20 minutes to discuss and create their posters. Afterwards gather and each group gets 2 minutes to present their results.

Dot Voting - Start, Stop, Continue (#12)

Brainstorm what to start, stop & continue and pick the top initiatives
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Divide a flip chart into boxes headed with 'Start', 'Continue' and 'Stop'. 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.

(Check out Paulo Caroli's 'Open the Box' for an awesome variation of this activity.)

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.

(#)


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. 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.