Story Cubes for Retrospectives

Sometimes we have guests over who want to learn more about our Open Friday and see it in action. Lately we’ve been asking for a session in return so that visitors add to our pool of knowledge. These guest sessions are often interesting and sometimes you strike gold: Cynthia Hohlstein and Kevin Plechinger hosted an inspiring session on and with Story Cubes. Because neither of them blogs, I get to share their idea with you: Story Cubes are sets of 9 dice with images on them. The images cover a wide range of motives, such as a speech bubble, a sheep, a star, a hand or a walking stick figure. The idea is that you roll 3 dice and then tell a story that contains the 3 motives you rolled.

3 Story CubesThis can easily be turned into a fun activity for agile retrospectives if players answer a question instead of just telling a story. Cynthia and Kevin already had a couple of ideas:

  • What was last sprint like?
  • How do customers view our product?
  • What’s the state of agility here in our company?
  • What was your carreer path? How did you get here?

We spend the hour-long session answering questions in groups of three. It was very interesting because the cubes prompt you to talk about aspects you wouldn’t normally have touched on – you tell the truth and still have to incorporate the 3 images. Among others, we used the “Customer View” question and it was quite revealing. Story Cubes help with changing perspective and add a fun element.

Thank you Cynthia and Kevin for introducing us to story cubes!

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6 Comments Story Cubes for Retrospectives

  1. Todd Galloway

    I’ve seen these cubes in the game store before and had a note in Evernote that I wanted to figure out how to use them in a retrospective. Awesome to see I wasn’t alone in that thought!

    Todd

    Reply
  2. Christoph Sperle

    I like the idea very much, but didn’t get the process you followed exactly. You wrote “9 dices”, but “3 images”. Did you try different processes and if so, what worked good, what not (when/who/how often to role all/some dices to talk about every/some pictures shown)?

    Christoph

    Reply
    1. Corinna Baldauf

      Hi Christoph!

      Thanks for asking!

      We did it round-based: Cynthia would pose the question, e.g. “How do customers view our product?” In the groups of three, the first person would randomly pick 3 dice from the pool of dice, roll them and answer the question. Then the next person gets to pick 3 dice and answer, then the last.

      This setup worked well for us. Another group of 3 used the same dice roll / images for all 3 people to tell their story. I’ll ask them how that worked for them. (I imagine it more challenging and a little more boring, but maybe it went great).

      Does it make sense now? Sorry for being too vague before,

      Corinna

      Reply
  3. Linda van der Pal

    I would roll all nine dice and let people pick the images that resonate for them. And I’d like to add that Story Cubes are also available in a large version (30mm).

    Reply
    1. Corinna Baldauf

      Great info, on the large dice, thank you, Linda!

      Have you tried it with the nine dice? I thought of the few dice as a feature, because they offer a strong constraint and force people to get creative. I guess, either way is fine 🙂

      Reply

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