Agile Retrospectives (III): Activities (I)
Activities to set the stage
Ask a question and make that everybody answers it in a couple of words. Example: How do you feel about the last sprint? Happy, angry, sad, hopeful...
Focus on / Focus off
Prepare pairs of words or concepts that are interesting, such as communication patterns and antipatterns, form groups and make that each group discuss a different pair of concepts.
Each member annotates anonymously his/her impressions about doing the retrospective: he must express his/her general feeling using one of the following roles: Explorer (high interest), Shopper (interested but please, let us do as fast as possible because I have a lot of work to do!) Vacationer (I'm here because I have nothing better to do right now), Prisoner (I'm here because I have to; I'd rather be working...).
Form groups. Each group suggest a list of ideas that could lead to effective behaviour and that improve productivity. When everybody has finished, those lists are shown and the team choose 3 - 7 suggestions. The team as a whole is responsible to make that everyone commit the selected ideas.
Activities to gather data.
In groups, decide events, activities and so on that were important during the last sprint. Key moments, relevant moments, good moments and bad moments. Gather all the data in the end and draw a common timeline.
Form groups. Each member has five minutes to annotate improvement actions in a piece of paper (say sticky note). Then, pass the note to the member on his/her right. In the end, gather all the notes and share them with the rest of the team. The aim is to have as many ideas as possible. If the team is smaller than 7 - 8 people, do it in a single team. Write feelings, events, important reactions and moments that have happened during the last sprint.
Color code dots
It's a good idea to combine this activity with Timeline. Once the timeline has been drawn, each member paints a red circle or green circle (depending on his/her general feelings) near each remarkable event drawn in the timeline. In the end, analyze which activities were better for the team and why.
Mad Sad Glad
Use it together with Timeline. Identify in the timeline which periods of time made the people feel anxious, sad or happy, using colours. Extract conclusions and analyze good and bad moments.
Ask, by pairs, which were the most important moments of the sprint. The aim is not arguing, but interviewing each other.
Create an histogram that includes the general impressions gathered in every sprint for every member. It's a good idea to make a scale to reflect the current status, so that everyone thinks about a number that reflects better his/her impressions. Analize the results of this sprint and the evolution of the histogram.
Establish a list of factors or objectives to analyze; every member rank those objectives from the team's point of view: how good are we at doing this factor/activity/whatever? Discuss the results at the end.
Like to Like
Each member points out those events that were particularly well in his/her opinion. It is very important to analyze everybody's opinion: each member makes a list with 3 issues that are necessary to stop doing anymore; 3 issues that the team do and must continue doing and 3 issues that the team should start doing. Then, share the ideas with the rest of the team one at a time; the rest of the people rate every idea by using game cards (say numbered cards or coloured cards). To make things faster, the last quality card that has been uncovered is automatically removed. Take a couple of minutes to think about the idea before start every round.
Activities to generate insights, to decide what to do and to close the retrospective meeting.
Agile Retrospectives – Making good teams great
Esther Derby, Diana Larsen