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: Love Agile
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.
Use your Planning Poker cards for un-influenced voting Source: Andreas Ratsch
If you've got very influential and / or shy team members you can re-use Planning Poker cards to vote simultaneously:
Write all suggested actions on sticky notes and put them onto a wall. Hand out an ordered deck of Planning Poker cards to each participant. Count the proposals and remove that many cards from the back of the card decks. If you've got 5 suggestions you might have cards '1', '2', '3', '5', and '8'. This depends on your deck (some have a '1/2' card). It doesn't matter, as long as all participants have the same set of values.
Explain the rules: Choose a card for each suggestion. Choose a low value if the action is not worth doing in your opinion. Choose a high value if the action is worth starting next iteration.
Give them a minute to sort out their internal ranking and then present the first suggested action. Everybody chooses a card and they reveal them at the same time. Add the numbers from all cards and write the sum onto the action. Remove the used poker cards. Repeat this for all actions. If you have more actions than poker values the players can show 'no card' (counting 0) for the appropriate number of times.
Implement the action with the highest sum in the next iteration. Add more actions only if there's team consensus to do so.
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.