Boring retrospectives – part 3

After some turbulent times in the course of our project, I felt it was time to take temperature of the team’s feelings about the state of the project.

I needed an exercise that invites people to share general feelings about the entire project. So I used a variant on the Art Gallery exercise, which I found on Pat Kua’s blog. It is called Mr Squiggle.

In the Art Gallery exercise, people draw an image that represents their feeling.

This is the idea behind the Mr Squiggle exercise:

“This exercise was inspired by the childhood TV show in Australia, of the same name (Mr Squiggle). Kids would literally send in a set of squiggles to the show to be put in front of a blackboard, where the main character, a puppet with a pencil on his nose, would turn them into complete drawings”

The difference between the Art Gallery exercise lies in the fact that we all start with the same basic drawing and extend it to represent our feeling.

We started with this basic sketch:

SQ BasicSketch

After everybody is finished, each person explains his drawing to the team. It was amazing how many similarities there were between the different drawings. I give you a few results:

SQ Curve 

“On our way to the jar of gold, we risk to get off-road”


SQ Wall

“In the beginning, we made heavy progress. After a while, we hit a wall, which we’re starting to tear down now.”


SQ Tortoise

“We move like a tortoise on our way to the finish. If we manage to find the bike, we could improve our speed a lot.”

Elaborating on the drawings exposes some issues that need our attention, and gets the team thinking for the next parts of the retrospective. As you probably noticed, our project is on a critical decision point. There is a slumbering risk that needs our attention, so we can assure that our train keeps running smoothly.

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.

One comment

  1. Pingback: ITK Podcast #1 : Interview with Mattias Skarin - itkanban - itkanban

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