How do you start a retrospective? Can you just ask your team what’s going wrong and what ideas they’re having to improve the current process?
Of course not, you ‘ll receive a blank stare and if lucky an ironic “Euh, let me think…”
As a retrospective facilitator, you have to help people to start the creative thinking process. A good way to get people ready is by hosting a warm-up exercise.
During one of our community meetings at my current client, people shared these exercises:
Write down these 3 questions on a flip chart:
- What do you expect of this retrospective?
- How do you feel?
- Compare yourself to a car brand?
Ask everyone to prepare themselves for 2 minutes to answer these questions.
Finally, one participant at a time, shares his answers with the group.
The purpose of this exercise is to explore expectations and current feelings, but also to get people speaking. This way they’re more likely to actively participate later.
Create a circle with all participants and bring one ball. The one who holds the ball says a word and tosses it to a random participant who immediately says the first word that comes into mind and tosses again to another participant, etc.
Keep tossing for a couple of minutes, making sure every participant has had a couple of tosses.
The purpose is to energize the participants, clear their heads and open their minds for creative thinking.
1 positive, 1 negative
Ask each participant to write down 1 positive and 1 negative experience from the previous sprint on separate post-its (they should be briefly described).
When everybody is finished, ask them to hand their positive experience to the person on their left and their negative experience to the person on their right.
Next, each participant reads the post-its he has received out loud and tries to explain them. Afterwards their neighbour corrects if necessary.
The purpose of this game is to get people back in the mindset of the previous sprint. If also helps people to understand each other and create empathy.
These 3 exercise are typically used in the beginning of a retrospective as a warm-up.