13 activities for retrospectives to know

25_Cause-Effect-DiagrammI like all activities in Retr-O-Mat. Of course, I do, otherwise I would not have invested the time to add them. Still, when I selected activities for the Print Edition I realized that some activities HAD to be in it and others were interchangeable.

Which are these key activities, you ask? Well, here they are:

For  Teams

Teams new to agile need to learn what to improve, what they can influence and how best to implement change:

  •  Circle of influence
    The team will be most successful if they tackle problems they can influence instead of bitching about things they cannot change
  • SMART Goals
    A concrete, measurable goal / action item has a much higher chance of being implemented than a nebulous one, that no one knows how to act on
  • Low hanging fruit
    Start with small steps. Early successes can start a virtuous cycle
  • Undercover Boss
    Changing perspective: The team’s perspective is not the only one there is. Other views are just as valid.

For Facilitators

If you’re new to facilitating retrospectives, here are methods and ideas I keep coming back to:

  • Lean Coffee
    Lean Coffee is the new black: It goes with everything. It’s my goto-method to facilitate all kinds of unstructured discussions. I even made it the crowning 24th 1-pager in the Wall-Skills advent calendar.
  • SaMoLo
    Gather suggestions in the categories “Same of”, “More of” and “Less of”. Can also cover a range of situations, e.g. to give feedback to new new colleagues
  • Cause-Effect-Diagram
    Such a powerful method: I’ve seen it break nasty loops so that teams finally find one end of the problem chain to yank on. IMO more suited for real-life complex problems than 5 Whys.
  • Merge
    Having many action items lowers the chances of any improvement getting implemented. Boiling it down to very few important ones is key and “Merge” does that nicely.
  • Brainwriting
    Written activities are the remedy for teams with silent members
  • Physical activities such as Take a Stand or Constellation
    Moving raises energy levels and influences how we feel about issues
  • Appreciative Inquiry
    It doesn’t have to be about problems all the time. You can also concentrate on positive things and still find great improvements. (Diana Larsen has created a retrospective plan with appreciative activities only.)
  • Speedboat
    Very simple yet it always draws out good contributions. I love the metaphor

As a facilitator starting with a  new team, you might want to test the waters with:

  • ESVP
    How do people feel about having retrospectives?

Personal favorites

Out of the above my personal favourites are Lean Coffee and Speedboat. I just love those!

Which activities do you prefer?

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