Great retrospectives are amazing, they have a way of really getting a team to work together and to energize them ahead of a new challenge. But even a great retrospective becomes boring and routine after a while. Luckily, there are a lot of us at Crisp working with different teams, so we got together this evening for a peer to peer exchange about retrospectives. We each got to pitch retrospective exercises and games that we’d like to try, or that we wanted to share. We ended up discussing and trying out 9 of them. Here’s a summary in case you’d like to try some of them out at your next retrospective!
Non Musical Chairs (http://tastycupcakes.org/2011/04/non-musical-chairs/)
To setup this game place chairs around the room, the idea is to have a chair per team member plus one extra chair. Each person takes a seat (one chair remains empty), and for a minute they are supposed to stop the facilitator from sitting on the empty chair by moving around. We failed within the first few seconds the first time, then we had a short retrospective and tried again, and again, and again… The game suggests that after several iterations the team will successfully keep the facilitator standing for the whole minute. After 25 minutes and several iterations we still hadn’t reached a solution. While it was a fun physical activity, it was pretty frustrating agile learning activity. To make this game more meaningful, in a shorter amount of time, we came up with the following suggestions:
- Let the goal be to lengthen the time that you keep the facilitator off a chair (we were improving our time, so this seemed more reasonable than fixating on a 1 minute goal)
- Run a meta-retrospective. What worked, and didn’t work when we worked together to improve our performance.
Since we had already cleared the room for the previous exercise we squeezed in an unplanned game. We split up into three teams. Each team got a written instruction. We were supposed to try to complete our objective without talking to anyone else during the game, and without knowing what the other teams’ objectives were. The instructions:
- Team 1 : Place all the chairs in a circle
- Team 2 : Place all the chairs back to back
- Team 3: Place all the chairs upside down
- How fun was the sprint?
- How do you rate your performance?
- How do you rate the team’s ability to meet the sprint goal?
- Did we have a the right pre-conditions going into the sprint after the planning?
- How was your ability to focus during the sprint?