Why did you stop trusting your neighbors

You're planning your next one Retrospective? Start with a randomly generated process, customize it, print it out, and share the URL with others. Or just look around for new ideas!

Is it your first retro? Start here!
Retromat.org - by Corinna Baldauf
Plan ID:

FEUG (English ESVP) (# 1)

What is the attitude of the participants to the retrospective? What role do you feel you are in? Researchers, shoppers, vacationers, prisoners.
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Preparation: A flipchart with four areas for the four roles. Explain the roles to the participants:
  • Researcher: Inquisitive and curious. Want to find out what is working well and what is not and how improvements can be made.
  • Shoppers: Positive attitude. Is happy if only one good thing comes out of it.
  • Vacationers: Reluctantly takes part. Better than work.
  • Prisoner: Only takes part because he feels he has to.
Start an anonymous survey where everyone writes on a piece of paper the role they are most likely to find themselves in. Collect the ballot papers and count the result for everyone to see on the prepared flipchart. If there is little trust in the team, you can demonstratively destroy the ballot papers after they have been counted to ensure anonymity.
To get into the discussion, ask the team what they think of the survey result and how they interpret it. If vacationers or prisoners are in the majority, you could discuss this insight in the retrospective.

Weather report (# 2)

The participants mark their mood "weather" on a flipchart.
Source: Agile Retrospectives
Preparation: A flipchart with symbols for thunderstorms, rain, clouds and sunshine. Each participant makes a mark on the weather report that best suits their mood.

Check In (# 3)

Ask a question or task that will be answered one by one by all participants.
Source: Agile Retrospectives
According to the round robin principle, each participant answers the same question / task (unless he wants to be skipped). Examples:
  • Describe in one word what you need for yourself as a result of this retrospective.
  • Express a fear or concern, e.g. by writing it down and consciously - also physically - putting it aside.
  • If you were a car just for this meeting, what kind would you be?
  • Which word best describes your emotional state? Happy, angry, sad, afraid?

Avoid elaborating on answers like "good" or asking for an explanation.

Amazon customer reviews (# 18)

Rates the previous iteration like an Amazon customer review. Don't forget the stars!
Source: Christian Heiss
Each team member writes a short review with:
  • title
  • content
  • Star rating (from 1 "I don't like it at all" to 5 "I like it very much")
Everyone reads their review aloud. Collect the star ratings on a flip chart.
This activity can be extended to the entire retrospective by also answering the question of what recommendations exist for the next sprint.

Mood thermometer (# 22)

The participants note their "temperature" (mood) on a flipchart.
Source: Unknown
Prepare a flipchart on which you will draw a simple thermometer. It should be able to display temperatures from freezing point to body temperature and boiling point.

Everyone in the team now marks a spot on the temperature scale that corresponds to their current mood.

Paint the iteration (# 31)

Hand out index cards and pens. Give a topic, e.g .:
  • How did you feel during the iteration?
  • Was there an aha! Moment? Which was that?
  • What was the biggest problem?
  • What did you miss
Ask participants to paint their answer as a small picture. Put all of the drawings on a whiteboard. Talk through the drawings together and first let the participants guess what is depicted and what it means. Then the respective artist explains his picture.

Metaphors enable a change of perspective and new perspectives. Together, the team develops an understanding of what happened in the last iteration.

Project feeling meter (# 32)

Help your team members to express their feelings about the project and talk about the causes early on
Source: Andrew Ciccarelli
Prepare a flipchart with faces that express emotions, e.g .:
  • shocked / surprised
  • nervous / stressed
  • powerless / restricted
  • confused
  • happy
  • insane
  • overwhelmed
All team members choose a face that best expresses how they feel about the project. In this way, problems can be brought to light early on in an entertaining way. You can discuss them in the subsequent phases of the retrospective.

Appreciative Target (# 36)

Choose a positive motto for the retrospective.
Source: Diana Larsen
Focus on positive aspects of your work rather than problems. Give the retrospective a positive motto, such as:
  • Let's find a way to build on our strengths in approach and cooperation.
  • Let's see how we can increase the use of established development practices and methodologies.
  • We find out where or between whom the collaboration is already working particularly well and how we can specifically create such a highly productive atmosphere.
  • We find out how and where we created the highest added value for our customer in the last iteration in order to increase the added value in the next iteration.

Postcards (# 42)

Participants choose postcards that reflect their thoughts or feelings
Source: Corinna Baldauf
Bring many different postcards, at least four times as many as there are participants. Spread the postcards around the room and tell students to choose the postcard that best represents what they think about the final iteration. Then ask them to write three keywords on cards that describe the postcard or the last iteration. One after the other, the participants hang up their postcards and the cards with the keywords and explain their choice to the other participants.

Stand by Your Opinion - Beginning (# 43)

Participants show their satisfaction with the last iteration by positioning themselves \ on a scale
Source: Corinna Baldauf, inspired by Christoph Pater
Use painter's tape to glue a scale on the floor (a long line). Mark one end with 'Great' and the other with 'Bad'. Ask participants to place themselves on the scale that corresponds to their satisfaction with the last iteration. Positioning oneself in space is often more of a 'commitment' than what participants 'just' say.
You can reuse the scale if you finish with activity # 44.

Why retrospectives? (# 46)

Go back to the basics and start the retrospective with the question: 'Why are we actually doing this?' Write down the answers for everyone to see. The result can be very surprising.

Constellations - Opening (# 52)

Place a disc or ball in the middle of a free space and gather the team around it. The disc is the point of highest agreement: if you agree with a statement you should move towards it; if you don't, move away from it according to the extent of your disagreement. Now formulate statements, e.g.
  • I think I can speak openly in this retrospective
  • I'm happy with the last iteration
  • I think the quality of our code is good
  • Our continuous integration process is mature
Now observe which constellations arise. Ask the team which constellations surprised them the most.

Can also be used as a finish (# 53).

Happiness Histogram (# 59)

Prepare a flip chart with a horizontal scale from 1 (unhappy) to 5 (happy).
  • The team members in turn place a sticky note according to their 'happiness' above the scale and comment on their placement
  • If something remarkable is mentioned in the explanation, let the team decide whether it should be discussed immediately or at a later point in time in the retrospective
  • If someone has the same 'happiness' value as their predecessor, the sticky note sticks over the sticky notes that have already been placed, so that a histogram (frequency distribution) is created

3 for 1 - start (# 70)

Clarify how satisfied the team is with the results of the iteration, the communication and the mood in the team - all rolled into one
Source: Judith Andresen
Prepare a flipchart with a coordinate system. Label the y-axis with 'satisfaction with the results of the iteration', the x-axis with 'frequency with which we coordinate'. Ask all participants to mark the point of satisfaction (y-axis) and the perceived frequency (x-axis) - with an emoticon that shows their mood (not just one point).
Discuss surprising outliers and extreme moods. (Vary the x-axis to reflect other topics in the team, e.g. 'Frequency with which we program as a second team (pairing)'.)

A round of admiration (# 76)

Start a round of admiration by turning to your neighbor and saying: "What I admire most about you ..." Then your neighbor says what he / she admires about their neighbor and so on, until the last participant admires you. Feels great, doesn't it?

Result expectations (# 81)

Everyone in the team says what they expect from the retrospective, what result they would like at the end of the meeting. Examples of what participants might say:
  • I am happy when we take a good measure.
  • I want us to wrap up our discussion on the right testing procedures and agree on how to proceed in the future.
  • For me, this retro is a success if we end up with a plan on how to clean up the $ obscureModule.
  • [You can check whether these expectations have been met by closing the retrospective with activity # 14.] [The meet core protocol that inspired us to do this activity also describes 'alignment checks': whoever believes the Retrospectively, not meeting the needs of the team, may call for an "alignment check". Everyone in the team then names a number from 0 to 10 that indicates how the retrospective meets their expectations. The person who gives the lowest value takes over and brings the team closer to the expected results.]

    Three words (# 82)

    Each summarizes the final iteration in three words
    Source: Yurii Liholat
    Ask everyone on the team to describe the final iteration in just three words. Let the team think for a minute, then ask for these three words in turn. This helps the team to remember the last iteration and so be prepared for the next activities.

    Last Retro's Action Table (# 84)

    Think about how you want to deal with the measures from the last retrospective
    Source: Sven Winkler
    Draw a table with 5 columns on a flipchart. Write the measures of the last retro in the first column. The headings for the other columns are "More", "Next", "Less" and "Stop". Participants now stick a stickie per line in the column that indicates whether or how they want to continue with this measure. Then start a short discussion for each measure, e.g .:

  • Why should we stop doing this?
  • Why is it worth continuing with this?
  • Are our expectations met?
  • Why are opinions so different?
  • Greetings from the iteration (# 85)

    Each team member writes a postcard about the last iteration
    Source: Filipe Albero Pomar
    Remind the team what makes a good postcard:

  • A picture on the front,
  • a message on one half of the back,
  • the address and the stamp on the other half.

  • Hand out blank index cards and tell the team that they have 10 minutes to write a postcard to someone the whole team knows (e.g. a former colleague). Then collect and shuffle the cards, then deal them again. Team members read out the postcard they received.

    Celebrating agile values ​​(# 90)

    Remind each other of situations in which you lived agile values
    Source: Jesus Mendez
    Draw four large circles and write in each one of the central values ​​that stand for agile work:

  • Individuals and their interaction (more important than processes and tools)
  • Working software (more important than comprehensive documentation)
  • Cooperation with customers (more important than contract negotiations)
  • Responding to changes (more important than implementing a plan)

  • Invite participants to describe situations in which they lived one of these values ​​- one encouraging example per sticky note. Then have all of their stickies taped into the appropriate circle, then read them out loud. Be proud of how their basic agile values ​​live :)

    Who said it (# 106)

    Assign individual quotes to team members and situations
    Source: Beccy Stafford
    Before the retro appointment, take some time to go through email threads, chat logs, and the like. Collect quotes from the last iteration: Funny quotes, or quotes that sound a little strange out of context. Write it down with the name of the person who said or wrote it.

    Read the quotes at the beginning of the retro and ask the team to guess who said it - the quoted person shouldn't reveal himself! Often times, the team not only knows who said it, but also talks about what went on in that situation.

    Improbable Superheroes (# 107)

    Imagine you were a superhero! What is your superpower
    Source: Pietari Kettunen
    Everyone in the team creates a superhero version of themselves based on how they see themselves in the team / project - complete with corresponding superpowers, weaknesses and possibly an arch enemy.

    Know Your Neighbor - Beginning (# 108)

    How did your neighbor on the right feel during the iteration?
    Source: Fabián Lewkowicz
    Ask all team members to briefly describe how their neighbor on the right felt during the iteration. The neighbors confirm or correct the assumption.

    Then, when everyone on the team has given their guess about how the team members felt, the team gets an idea of ​​how connected they are, how the team communicates, and whether the team members are aware of the feelings expressed by others become.

    Consider concluding with activity # 109.

    Show me a face! (# 114)

    Participants show how they feel by drawing a face on a tangerine
    Source: Afagh Zadeh
    Give each team member a not too thick black marker and a tangerine with a sticky note on it that says, "How are you feeling? Please show me a face". After everyone has finished with their drawings, the works of art and the depicted emotions are presented in turn. It's a carefree way to get the team in the mood.

    Positive and True (# 122)

    Ask your neighbor a question that is tailored to get a positive and truthful answer, such as:
    • What did you do really well in the last iteration?
    • What makes you really happy
    • What made you happy yesterday?
    Then your neighbor asks his neighbor on the other side the same question, and so on, until everyone has asked and answered.

    This gives everyone a boost and leads to better results.

    String Theory - Hidden Connections (# 129)

    Find common interests and characteristics of team members
    Source: Halford
    This game is good for new teams of 6 to 15 members. It accelerates team building by allowing team members to share their characteristics and interests. This allows them to develop a closer relationship than is possible with just work-related topics.

    Have the team members form a circle with everyone looking inward, about half an arm's length away from their neighbors. Depending on what you want to achieve with this activity, you can ask colleagues, who usually work remotely or at a different location, to stand at a distance of about one and a half meters from the circle.

    Give a ball of yarn to any team member and ask them to hold the thread end with their left hand and the ball with their right hand (if you are left-handed, please swap hands accordingly). The ball holder starts the game by saying something about himself that has nothing to do with the job, e.g. "I have a daughter" or "I play the guitar". If this statement applies to another team member, they raise their hand and say "Yes, that's me". The ball holder then passes the ball of yarn on to this person. If several people have registered, the ball holder can choose one of them. If no one has reported, the ball holder makes another statement.

    The person who receives the ball of wool holds the thread and tightens it. This is the first connection in a network of similarities. The new ball holder now says something about itself, releases the ball of wool and holds it by its part of the thread and so on.

    The game ends when either the time is up or everyone has at least two connections or the thread ends.

    You can review the game with questions like these:
    • What did you notice?
    • If there are people who work remotely or in another location: how does it feel to be outside? How does it feel to have someone standing apart?
    • How does it feel with few (or no) connections?
    • What is it like to see this web of connections?
    • Can you be a team without this network?
    • What would happen if someone let go of their thread? How would it affect the team?
    • Is there anything you're going to do differently at work now?

    This activity is only the first part of a longer game.

    Find the elephant (# 130)

    Are there any problems that nobody talks about?
    Source: Willem Larsen
    Prepare 1 set of cards per team member. A set of cards contains 1 elephant card, 1 boot card, 1 lucky sun card and 1 moon card (see photo). Explain how each card is selected from their set:
    • If a team member thinks there is at least one "elephant in the room" (an unspoken but important problem) for that team, select the elephant card. Choosing this card doesn't mean having to talk about the elephant or even say what you think the problem is.
    • Anyone who doesn't see elephants but has been in a situation since the last retrospective where his or her feelings have been hurt (and it has not been addressed directly) should choose the boots-step-on-flower card.
    • If all is well, choose the happy sun.
    • If you feel uncomfortable while sharing or have the feeling that none of the cards really fit, choose the neutral moon.
    To maintain anonymity, everyone puts their chosen card face down on the feedback pile and the rest of the cards face down on a discard pile. Shuffle the discard pile for anonymity and set it aside. Shuffle the feedback deck, then reveal the cards one by one.

    If the team has one or more elephants in the room there are some serious psychological safety issues. Let this knowledge stand as it is for now and soon offer a larger retrospective to have space to talk about the topic, if that's what you want - but don't ask directly who chose which card. Maintain anonymity and do not force explanations for the choice of cards! This is an important opportunity to build trust and maintain the ability to gain insight into the state of the team.

    Two or more hurt feelings, depending on the team size, indicate that there may be problems with the feeling of security. Two or more moons also indicate a lack of psychological security. Take this feedback into account when designing the next retrospective. There are many great ways to dive deeper and gain insight, this activity just shows when such a retrospective is needed.

    Surprise! (# 136)

    How does the toy in a surprise egg represent the participants?
    Source: Unknown via Andreas Drexhage
    Buy a surprise egg (or something similar with a surprise toy inside) for each participant.

    Hand out the eggs at the start of the retrospective. Eating the chocolate is of course voluntary, but everyone has to open their egg and assemble the toy. Ask this question, "How does the toy represent your role in this iteration?"

    Give everyone a moment to think. Then have everyone on the team present their toy and describe how it relates to their role.
    Retromat contains activities that allow a total of () combinations. And we're adding more all the time.