Everyone in the team states their goal for the retrospective, i.e. what they want out of the meeting. Examples of what participants might say:
I'm happy if we get 1 good action item
I want to talk about our argument about unit tests and agree on how we'll do it in the future
I'll consider this retro a success, if we come up with a plan to tidy up $obscureModule
[You can check if these goals were met if you close with activity #14.]
[The Meet - Core Protocol, which inspired this activity, also describes 'Alignment Checks': Whenever someone thinks the retrospective is not meeting people's needs they can ask for an Alignment Check. Then everyone says a number from 0 to 10 which reflects how much they are getting what they want. The person with the lowest number takes over to get nearer to what they want.]
Set up a 'retrospective mailbox' at the beginning of the iteration. Whenever something significant happens or someone has an idea for improvement, they write it down and 'post' it. (Alternatively the 'mailbox' can be a visible place. This can spark discussion during the iteration.) Go through the notes and discuss them. A mailbox is great for long iterations and forgetful teams.
If your boss had witnessed the last iteration, what would she want you to change? Source:
Imagine your boss had spent the last iteration - unrecognized - among you. What would she think about your interactions and results? What would she want you to change? This setting encourages the team to see themselves from a different angle.
Check for resistance instead of approval Source:
Georg Paulus, Siegfried Schrotta \& Erich Visotschnig via Corinna Baldauf
Do you have a hotly debated matter with several possible ways to go and the team can't agree on any of them? Instead of trying to find a majority for a way that will create winners and losers, try what happens if you turn the decision inside out: Draw a table with the voters in the left-most column and proposals on top. Now everybody has to fill in their resistance towards each proposal. 0 means 'no resistance - this is what I want', up to 10, meaning 'shoot me now'. Give the least hated solution a try.
Thinking back about the discussions, everybody writes a reminder for her- or himself about a change in their own behaviour they want to try during the next iteration. It's for quiet self reflection and is not shared with the group. They take their respective sticky notes with them to their desktop and put it in a place they will look at often.