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?

Published by Corinna Baldauf

Corinna Baldauf has filled every Scrum role there is and then some. Currently she spends most of her days writing and occasionally facilitating retrospectives. She's interested in lean, agile, coaching, leadership & UX. You can follow her on Twitter, subscribe to her (Retromat) newsletter and buy her books.

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