Best Retro Check-In Formats EN

The best retro check-in formats for every situation

There are many good ways to initiate a retrospective. In this post, I would like to introduce three different retro check-in formats. Each check-in format serves a specific purpose and can be easily varied and adapted to your team's needs.

Let's begin:

Quiz check-in whiteboard template

Retro Check-In Type 1: Create excitement with check-in games

The purpose of this type of check-in is to create engagement and interaction between team members. A variety of games can be used for this purpose. One game format that we particularly like and does not require much preparation is the "guessing game" quiz. 

How the "guessing game" check-in works

Here are the instructions for the “guessing game” as check-in. You can best share the steps with your team on your (online) whiteboard:

  1. Each team member chooses an animal and keeps it for themselves. (1 minute)
  2. Each team member has 2-3 minutes to write 3 facts about their animal.
    These facts can be obvious facts such as "has wings", or numbers that you can find out with a quick web search, such as "exists about 100,000 times in Germany".
  3. Now each team member presents their facts. After each fact, all the other team members can give ONE hint as to which animal it is.
  4. If the animal has not been guessed after all three facts, the person has won and receives a point. Otherwise, the person who guesses the animal first gets the point.

You can also play the check-in game retrospectively and add up the points over several rounds in order to regularly determine a “quiz winner” – that is really fun!

Note: You can adapt this check-in format and have the team guess car brands, countries, cities, fruits, etc. instead - there are no limits to your creativity. Or even better, get the team actively involved and have someone else choose the theme of the check-in guessing game in each retrospective.

Either-or check-in whiteboard template

Check-in type 2: Getting to know each other better

Your team has recently come together and the team members don't know each other well yet? Use a "get-to-know-each-other check-in" to give team members the opportunity to get to know each other better and to "break the ice". A great format for this is the "either-or check-in".

This is how the "either-or" check-in works

Make a list of alternative positions for categories like "Food", "Music", "Exercise", "Drinks". Avoid political and religious topics.

  1. Pasta or pizza? (Food)
  2. Chocolate or gummy bears? (Sweets)
  3. Soccer or basketball? (Sports)
  4. “Game of Thrones” or “Scrubs”? (Series)
  5. Tea or coffee (Drinks)
  6. Sweatpants or jeans (Clothing)
  7. K-Pop or Schlager (Music genre)

For the best getting-to-know effect, design the format in such a way that each team member not only positions their post-it, but also has the chance to comment on the choice. Just sharing stickies with your own name without explaining your own positioning is not very effective when it's about learning new insights about each other.

Depending on the size of the team and the time slot for the check-in, you should keep the list of “either-or questions” quite short. Allow around half a minute for each check-in question and participant. With 4 check-in questions and 6 participants, the time box should be at least 12 minutes. 

In general, we would recommend not to include more than 6 “either-or questions” in order not to wear out the game too quickly.

The same applies here: Adapt this check-in format freely to the interests of your team and vary it each time for the necessary variety. It is also a great idea to have this format prepared by team members in turn – who knows what creative ideas arise from the team. 

If you run out of ideas for the "either-or questions", the Internet offers a lot of inspiration.

Reflection with Metaphor Check In Whiteboard Template

Check-in type 3: Stimulate self-reflection with metaphors

Would you like to initiate self-reflection during the check-in of the retrospective? Then this third type of check-in is very suitable! Metaphors can be very helpful for the team to reflect their cooperation and working results from a new perspective.

Here are a few examples:

  • Imagine writing a newspaper article about the last sprint: What would the headline of the article be?
  • Of the following cars, which one best reflects the last sprint and why?
  • Which image (e.g. superhero) best reflects your role in the last sprint?

Here, too, there are correspondingly many possibilities to vary the check-in formats, both the selection of option as well as the categories themselves.

The best at the end: Customizable check-in templates in Echometer

Do you regularly prepare retrospectives and would like an overview of different check-in formats from which you can easily choose?

In Echometer we have collected all of these check-ins as whiteboard templates. You can also freely adapt the templates so that you have a large number of variants up your sleeve.

If you don't know Echometer yet: Echometer is a software tool that was developed for inexperienced Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters & Servant Leaders. With predefined templates, it helps to gain self-confidence and quickly raise the team to a new level. 

Sounds good? You can register here and then get started straight away:

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Cover photo by Kindel Media on Pexels

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