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Lines of Communication (#86)

Visualize how information flows in, out and around the team
Source: Tarmo Aidantausta
Is information not flowing as well as it needs to? Do you suspect bottlenecks? Visualize the ways information flows to find starting points for improvements. If you want to look at one specific flow (e.g. product requirements, impediments, ...) check out Value Stream Mapping (#79). For messier situations try something akin to Cause-Effect-Diagrams (#25).
Look at the finished drawing. Where are delays or dead ends?

Snow Mountain (#118)

Address problematic burndowns and scope creep
Source: Olivier Fortier
This activity is helpful when a team is constantly dealing with additional requests and scope creep. Use the burndown chart of problematic sprints to draw snowy mountains with the same outline. Add a few trees here and there. Print drawings of kids in various sledging situations such as kid sledging down fast, kid sledging and being scared, kid with a sledge looking bored, etc. (You can use Google image search with 'kid sledging drawing').

In teams of 2 or 3, ask the team members to identify which kid's reaction goes with which part of the mountain.
Example: If the mountain is flat, the kid might be bored. If you're facing a wall, the kid might be scared.

You can then discuss the team's reaction facing their own burndowns.

Avoid Waste (#135)

Tackle the 7 Wastes of Software Development
Source: Tony O'Halloran
This activity facilitates a broad discussion around waste, using the 7 Wastes of Software Development from Lean Software Development by Mary and Tom Poppendieck.

Prepare the room with 7 flip-chart sheets, each representing a category of waste. Be sure to give enough room for small groups to stand around them, so spread the sheets out across the room!

The 7 categories of waste are:
  1. Partially Done Work
    Is work going from beginning to end in a single rapid flow? For example; are you building up large amounts of untested or undeployed work? Do you have long-lived feature branches?
  2. Extra Features
    Do your customers or users actually need what you’re building?
  3. Relearning
    Do you spend a lot of time rediscovering what you (or someone else on your team) already knew at one time?
  4. Handoffs
    Is your team truly collaborating, or handing off bits of work to each other, losing tacit knowledge in the process?
  5. Delays
    Does work typically spend lots of time stalled awaiting things like environments, someone to be available, or decisions to be made?
  6. Task Switching
    Do you find that you lose time to context switching frequently?
  7. Defects
    Does your team have a low defect rate? How late in the development process do you find defects? Could this feedback loop be shorter?
To start, briefly describe each of the different types of waste (more in-depth information here). Then pose the core questions:

In which situations do we incur this type of waste?
Where do we do a good job of avoiding this type of waste?

Break into groups of 2-3 people, preferably with a mix of roles in the groups. This helps to build awareness of the waste everyone else is dealing with on your team. Then, each group selects their first topic and spends a short amount of time writing post-its to answer the two questions above. Limit it to 2 or 3 minutes per topic and 2 post-its per person for each topic to avoid getting swamped with data. When the timebox is up, each group cycles to the next category until everyone has had an opportunity to contribute to each.

What themes are emerging? What do participants notice? Use dot-voting to decide which topics are important enough to further discuss in the next phase.

(#)


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. As Integral Coach and Agile Coach he coaches executives, managers, product owners and scrum masters. 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.