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Three Words (#82)

Everybody sums up the last iteration in 3 words
Source: Yurii Liholat
Ask everyone to describe the last iteration with just 3 words. Give them a minute to come up with something, then go around the team. This helps people recall the last iteration so that they have some ground to start from.

Roles and Responsibilities (#146)

Clarify expectations and responsibilities for each role on the team
Source: Role-Up
Many conflicts arise from unclear expectations. Talking about individual people can feel like an attack. That’s why this activity focusses on expectations towards roles.

Create a table with one column per role in the team. (Limit it to 7 columns. If there are more than 7 roles, leave out roles that have little conflict.) The rows of the table are: 

  • Role name
  • This role is responsible for …
  • This role is NOT responsible for …
Leave enough space between the bottom rows so that people who aren’t sure whether something is a role’s responsibility have an unofficial inbetween space to post them. Hand out pens, as well as yellow and orange sticky notes.

Ask everyone to write yellow sticky notes listing the responsibilities for each role – 1 responsibility per note. Set a timer for 8 minutes and read the room to see if you can stop early or have to give more time. Post all the sticky notes but don’t discuss them yet.

Repeat this process with the non-responsibilities on orange sticky notes.

The team now dot-vote on which topics they want to talk about. Give enough time to read all the sticky notes and distribute 7 votes.

Start with the topic with the most votes. Invite the people who voted for it to share why they want to talk about it. Try to clarify expectations team members have about a role’s responsibilities. Write down clarifications or agreements the team make. Repeat for the next highest voted topic until time runs out.

BYOSM - Build your own Scrum Master (#94)

The team assembles the perfect SM & takes different points of view
Source: Fabian Schiller
Draw a Scrum Master on a flipchart with three sections on him/her: brain, heart, stomach.
  • Round 1: 'What properties does your perfect SM display?'
    Ask them to silently write down one trait per note. Let participants explain their notes and put them on the drawing.
  • Round 2: 'What does the perfect SM have to know about you as a team so that he/she can work with you well?'
  • Round 3: 'How can you support your SM to do a brilliant job?'
You can adapt this activity for other roles, e.g. BYOProductOwner.

Dot Voting - Keep, Drop, Add (#38)

Brainstorm what behaviors to keep, drop & add and pick the top initiatives
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Divide a flip chart into boxes headed with 'Keep', 'Drop' and 'Add'. 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.

Appreciations (#15)

Let team members appreciate each other and end positively
Source: Agile Retrospectives who took it from 'The Satir Model: Family Therapy and Beyond'
Start by giving a sincere appreciation of one of the participants. It can be anything they contributed: help to the team or you, a solved problem, ...Then invite others and wait for someone to work up the nerve. Close, when no one has talked for a minute.

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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.