scrum_change_retrospective

3 unknown & interactive scrum retrospective ideas

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How? Download my free and science based eBook on "Reaching team flow in 12 easy steps" and take is seriously. But now let's get to the actual topic of this text.

This article on 3 unknown and interactive Scrum retrospective ideas are neatly introduced by a quote from a scrum master at Eucon, a Münster-based company:

"As a Scrum Master, it is often difficult to make the retrospectives varied and exciting. Usually, this only takes some preparation time, which we don't always have."
Matthias Adames
Scrum Master, Eucon GmbH

I also know this challenge as a Scrum Master and psychologist. That's why I have recorded three alternative retrospective ideas from Scrum here. 

If you embellish them with storytelling and the teams are generally ready for a change, these ideas will serve you well. I have to add that some of these are only suitable for teams with a certain degree of maturity, or for certain occasions. The three ideas are called: hearsay, team acronym and the “conflict compass”.

One thing before we start: We recently published 3 fresh Retrospective Workshop Ideas (incl. the Superman Retrospective) – feel free to take a look at that, too.

Scrum Retrospective Idea 1: Hearsay - What needs to be said

We start with a strong scrum retrospective idea that has its origins in psychotherapy. Because, like the recommended book, "The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling” it is not the art of naming solutions, but asking the right questions that lead to the right solutions. 

A Scrum Master reported to me that he hit a home run with this retrospective idea (or method). His statement was something along the lines of this: “If we hadn't uncovered a fundamental team conflict in our retro with Echometer using this method, this conflict would have hit us three times as hard a month later!” 

Well if that's the case. Let's start with the first question:

1. What am I not saying, that should be said? 

Of course, you need the appropriate psychological security (one of the most important factors for successful teams) to talk about the elephant in the room here. But in my experience, this question can also lead to new ideas or important points in less mature teams. The second question takes a closer look at the personal feelings of the team members.

2. What do I not hear, that should be heard? 

At best, this is where worries or needs of team members come to light, for which there is may not be enough space. A "typical" result would be that someone in the team would like to be thanked more often. But there is also a third aspect that you should not miss out on, which tries to amplify the voice of team members who need help:

3. What do I say, that should be heard more often?

Because people often talk about worries, but they are (perhaps only subjectively) not sufficiently noticed or valued by the team. This is exactly what this question is intended to do.

If you like this retro format and questions, you can open them directly in our team development tool Echometer:

How to open this retrospective idea in the Echometer tool: Click on the button below, invite your team and get started – no login needed 🙂 🙂

Scrum Retrospective Idea 2: Team Acronym

The next idea for your scrum retrospective is something with a little variety and can be used in different phases of the retrospective. It is very simple, but is very useful in stimulating creativity.

The basic idea is very straight forward: Each team member creates an acronym from, for example from the team name, team vision or company name. This acronym could also refer to the last sprint, or could also include hopes or concerns for the future (in the sense of the idea of the pre-mortem method). 

In addition, it could also be used for an extended check-in or check-out, or even as a data gathering mechanism.

We'll raise this example: let's say your team is called TORPEDO and you want to get data on the last sprint. Then an example acronym could look like this:

Terminated
Open
Ripeness (Maturity level in German)
Planless
Elegant
Deeply grateful
Definition O f Done

The different points serve as a kind of creative “reminder” for the feedback of each team member. Of course, each person needs to provide an explanation for their feedback, for example:

"What do you mean by maturity?" - “I noticed that there was some messing around done in the backlog, without any communication that justifies it. To be honest, I'm not entirely satisfied with that. My hypothesis is that as the level of maturity increases, it can get better - we're still a young team. But I wanted to draw attention to that. ”

The individual words do not have to hit the heart of the message, but should make the whole thing a little more entertaining and playful. If you feel like it, you can of course also choose the most creative acronym with a (symbolic) prize, even if it's just a round of applause 🙂

Scrum Retrospective Idea 3: Form a conflict compass

What I, and websites such as Retromat dislike (I don't exempt myself and Echometer itself) about some scrum retrospective ideas and methods, is that they are not tailored to a specific team challenge.

But the following retrospective method is, and is on the subject of conflicts. Team conflicts are normal. They are also a sign of psychological safety – You only dare to address friction points and mistakes if you are secure in your working environment. 

Nevertheless, it is important to deal with them in a healthy and targeted manner in order to learn constructively and develop from them. Especially when they may occur during the team's puberty phase - the "storming phase" in team development.

The idea and approach

The retrospective idea here is to basically develop your own codex (or compass) on how you want to behave in the event of conflict within the team. The "trick" is that you don't set it from the outside, but work it out together. This is known in psychology as the act of effort justification.

The procedure is as follows (approx. 50 minutes).

  1. Three groups are formed: a for, an against and an observation group. Note that the teams are mixed as well as possible. Potentially, the “typical” groups in the team should not be in a sub-group together.
  2. A relatively banal (or not so banal) topic that has nothing to do with the team in the first step is selected.
    Depending on the company, one could, for example, discuss whether an employee survey should be carried out anonymously, whether home offices should be increasingly encouraged in the company, or whether there should be a quota for women on the executive level. If these topics are considered too “conflict-provoking”, one can also choose external topics that are more neutral: Should there be a school uniform or should the European countries come closer politically and become the “United States of Europe” ? ...
  3. The teams have a few minutes to think about their arguments.
  4. The discussion is carried out accordingly and the observation group takes extensive notes.
  5. After the discussion, the observations are shared, recorded and reflected upon.
  6. Based on this discussion, three to five rules for future conflicts are jointly laid down. How do you want to behave when there are opposing opinions?
  7. The rules are recorded on a poster for everyone, possibly also on a digital Kanban board - this way, a conflict compass has been created 🙂


The conflict compass therefore helps to show direction if one is unclear as to how to behave in conflicts. 

By the way: Conflicts can also be avoided by specifically promoting the right mindset. You can find more information in my article on the amazing truth behind the agile mindset.

Bonus – Scrum Retrospective Ideas 4: Echometer

Another way to design retros is of course to use Retro Tools! In particular, I would like to mention Echometer, which I was involved in developing myself. 

It combines insights from psychology with agile best practices to get the best out of team health checks & fun retrospectives - to help to grow your team. 

We also have a catalog of different retrospective methods – and it can be used both remote and offline.

The basic version is free. If you want to try it out – here or start for free.

If you would like to explore all the possible retrospective ideas in our tool, you can simply do so following the button:

More retrospective ideas in Scrum

There can be many scrum retrospective ideas found online. Hopefully these three are new to you, or fit your challenges.

You can find more ideas or methods for your retrospective, this time during the data gathering phase, in my other article with methods such as: the Archer's retrospective, the Sherlock Holmes and the Rocket retrospective!

If you are searching for fun retrospective ideas, check out our post on 32 Kickass Retrospective Ideas for Agile Teams (including the Mario Kart Retro & Marathon Retrospective).

Still not enough? Well, in that case take a look at the Harry Potter retrospective, the "Good Bad Ugly" Retro, the "Pleasure & Gain“ retrospective or the starfish retro 🙂

Some of our customers have a completely different problem: retrospective fatigue! If the development team considers retrospective are unnecessary, then take a look at our 7 tips against retrospective fatigue

One of the most effective ways to sustainably develop the agile mindset of teams is implementing an agile health check. Our free team health check kit is there to help you implement it and ask the right questions. Just takes a minute to go through it 🙂

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Try the Spotify Health Check Retrospective!

First question: "😍 We love going to work, and have great fun working together."

Sounds interesting? Try the format in our retro tool: