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I am a Junior at workplace and i have been to a number of our retrospectives over the last year. I have been asked to facilitate a retrospective of my own.

So far, we have done "hats (red, green, white etc)", "mad, sad, glad", "imagining going forward to end of next sprint, and discussing how it might have gone".

I would like to try something new. If you practice agile in your workplace, what do you use and would you recommend trying it for a retrospective?

Thanks, Kohan

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I feel like I'm in first grade; this is worse than pigs and chickens. How about real charts and graphs, or is that too boring? Maybe you could make a pie-graph cake. –  Robert Harvey Aug 3 '11 at 15:35
    
On a more serious note, what exactly is the purpose of this "retrospective?" It would help us answer your question if we knew what your goals were. –  Robert Harvey Aug 3 '11 at 15:38
    
To see what went well, what went not so well and why. Then come up with SMART objectives to improve. It's usually pretty open ended and anything can be thrown into discussion. The methodologies I have mentioned so far are just a catalyst for this discussion. –  Kohan Aug 3 '11 at 15:42
    
Is this a sprint retrospective or a project retrospective? –  Thomas Owens Aug 3 '11 at 15:42
    
Sprint, we use 3 weeks. –  Kohan Aug 3 '11 at 15:46

3 Answers 3

The answer, my friend, is GAMEIFICATION of your Retrospective!

Check out: www.tastycupcakes.org www.gogamestorm.com

There are plenty of games for you to utilize for your retrospective, all that can elicit the type of information you need (improvements, deltas, etc) all while engaging your participants.

To name a few: Four Square, Legos, Speed Boat, Pains/Gains, Story of our Sprints, Shark Tank.

Although I enjoy Norman Kerth's book on Project Retrospectives and Esther Derby's Retrospectives book as well, you'll do well to have a little bit of fun while helping the team grow.

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Thanks, I will certainly check out your recommendations. –  Kohan Aug 3 '11 at 15:59
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Dear god, I think I'd resign before the event ended. However, I don't think you're doing it wrong - if you're getting value out of it and enjoy it then have fun. –  psr Aug 3 '11 at 20:22
    
Should I change the "GAMES" to "Exercises?" .... the best feedback I've ever gotten from teams is when we have exercises at retrospectives. Bar none. –  Agile Scout Aug 4 '11 at 0:35

I recommend Agile Retrospectives:

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It's written by two well respected coaches in the area and explains how you can prepare the retrospective, how to lead it and what activities you can use and how to select them.

This book recommends using activities and so do I.

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Keep it simple and professional. Don't use gimmicks or games or anything like that.

Appoint someone, such as the project manager (or, in Scrum, the ScrumMaster) to solicit feedback from everyone, based on team preferences. This could be via email or written on paper and turned in. Ask for everyone to contribute things they think went well and what can be done to continue, things that didn't go well and how to fix the problems, and general thoughts or comments about the Sprint.

After all the ideas are collected, put them on a tri-fold poster, or make a slide deck, or just handouts. The entire team goes to a conference room, sits around a table, and goes through every point, coming to agreement about how to move forward, fixing problems and keeping the good things going.

Don't forget to timebox the meeting. I can't rememember off the top of my head, but I think that retrospective meetings should be no longer than 2 or 3 hours. Pick an appropriate length of time for your meeting, and stay focused for that time.

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Thanks for the info. This is very similar to what we currently do, the "games" that i have mentioned so far are usually what have used to get people thinking in new ways and to hopefully bring some feedback or opinions to light. Glad to see we are not doing it as wrong as some of the comments have led me to believe. –  Kohan Aug 3 '11 at 15:59
    
I've never been a fan of organizations that try to be "fun" and bring in gimmicks. It comes off as unprofessional and, well, gimmicky. I come to work to do a job, not to have fun and play games with coworkers. –  Thomas Owens Aug 3 '11 at 16:28
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@Thomas: Your advice about avoiding games/activities is contradictory to what most professional coaches would recommend. –  Martin Wickman Aug 3 '11 at 21:01
    
@Martin That's just from me. Introducing excessive amounts of fun, in my opinion, just shows a lack of professionalism, respect for the discipline, and detracts from the mission of efficiently producing high quality software. It's a waste of time and (since you are paying your engineers for this time) money. –  Thomas Owens Aug 3 '11 at 21:06

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