The Retrospective meeting is one of the most important elements of the empirical process as Scrum and Kanban and yet many teams after a while start to skip them. Some of the reasons are that they become very predictive and boredom. Scrum masters who truly understand that this is the time for the team to look back and spend few moments to learn at some point come to ideas to use some games. While any game can be, fun and give an impression of being more interesting, choosing the right exercise can sparkle the new motivation for teams to improve their way of working. So how do we suggest to apply that in your next retrospective:

Step 1: Choose a specific area that you want to address – it can be everything, from keeping time in the meeting, better communication, time for learning, improving habits, giving and receiving feedback, openness in communication, name it….

Step 2:  Find an exercise or a game that can show the current behavior of the team.

Step 3: Plan the game for the meeting – meeting exact scheduling, materials, time for debriefing and learning.

Step4: Do it on the retrospective meeting – sometimes even without announcing upfront – our brain love good surprises.

We are listing some of the examples of what we did as consultants for Scrum teams:

  1. Team 1 – There was some culture of blaming and not fully taking responsibility on team decisions – so this is the set of exercises used with some modifications:
    1. Check in – Speed boat – pictures of the members were put on the boat as they arrived.
    2. Data Collection – Speed boat modified on piece of paper – with anchors for problems and wind for things that support them
    3. An input on the Responsibility Process of Christopher Avery was done and members were asked to find examples for them self on a piece of paper called the Blame game. At the end, we discussed shortly the topic in plenum.
    4. Now we moved in to analysis on the deepest anchors in smaller groups
    5. They came up with some specific action items
  2. Team 2 – Good team spirit, but because of having lots of work on the Backlog not doing process improvements and there were very experienced and some very new members. What we did differently:
    1. They already had some items that are not yet resolved, so for the Check in and Data collection we spend few minutes just to point 3 of them.
    2. There was an input a collective decision making techniques that was followed by immediate exercises on the improvement topics with a goal to come up with action item that is doable by the end of the next week (e.g. mid of the sprint)
  3. Team 3 – We did a complete retrospective based on Eliciting Team Values (Do it yourself Team Values (Energize people). Print the list of 50 Virtues . Ask the team to select 3-7. Ask the stakeholders to select 3-7.  Do a cross check and final selection for the team)
  4. Team 4 – We did a complete retrospective on Feedback culture, how to give and receive feedback with exercises.

And there can be infinite number of mix of exercises and game in which we learn. And here is our list of resources for inspiration and mix and match with the only suggestion choose wisely based on your needs.




Using Games for More Engagement in Retrospectives