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Quick Retrospective

The Retrospective meeting is one of the six meetings in Scrum. The main purpose of this meeting is to get an overview of the last sprint. The Development Team has the opportunity to reflect on the process and to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the current sprint and its work procedures.

I would like to introduce you to four different types of a quick retrospective, especially focused on teams who are participating in this type of meeting for the first time. It is common that team members are not really willing to open up and express their feelings, problems, experiences at the first couple of times. Therefore, only the Scrum-Team (DevTeam, SM, PO) is allowed in that meeting, others can only join with the DevTeam’s permission. It is a learning process and the team has to adapt to this new environment of openness. However, every team is more than welcome to use these methods regularly and for other intentions, eg. a short retrospective after every meeting to analyse how helpful and productive it was. A retrospective after a sprint review would give an insight on how stakeholders experienced the meeting.

Rocket Retrospective

  • Outcome: Quick self-awareness
  • Timebox: 15 minutes
  • Material: Marker, post-its, paper cards

It is important that you limit the time to your time box and do not extend any parts of the meeting.
The first step is called “Appreciation” and it should not take longer than five minutes because your DevTeam members just have to write down all the positive changes that had an impact on them and their project.

The second step is referred to “Collection of Information”. Every team member gets a card and a pen and he/she has to write down something that should be implemented or something that should be eliminated. Additionally, it is necessary that the person explains what exactly the problem is, why it is a problem and what are the benefits if it is implemented/eliminated. The members have to finish this task within five minutes. Afterwards, all cards are put upside down on a table, so nobody can see what is written on them. Once all cards are on the table the ScrumMaster collects and shuffles the cards.

The last step is termed “Making a Decision”. Each team member has to pick up one card of the table and take “ownership” of it. Then he/she has to write at least one proposal of action on the back of the note. It could be something as simple as writing an email or meet with another team member for 10 minutes two times a week, etc. Once everybody has finished this task, they present their card one by one with the issues and proposed follow-up actions. If some cards are similar those team members get together and put their solutions together on the back.

The ScrumMaster should keep the cards and put them on a whiteboard for everybody to see. The ScrumMaster has to bring the cards at the next retrospective for the participants to give appreciation on them.

Gifts & Hooks

  • Outcome: Participants will discover their colleagues’ strengths and expectations
  • Timebox: 15-30 minutes
  • Material: Pen and paper

The participants have to write down their strengths on paper within 10 minutes. Their strengths are called gifts because they have to list how they could contribute to the project to make it successful. Afterwards every participant has to list every ‘hook’, which are all the things that stand in their way to work more efficiently. At the end everybody shortly presents their list and then the discussion can start on how to remove those hooks preferably.

Genie in a Bottle

  • Outcome: Intuition for urgent problems
  • Timebox: 15-20 minutes
  • Material: Flip chart and pens

The team tracked down an ancient bottle. A genie appeared when they opened it. The genie told the team that he/she will grant them three wishes regarding changes at their workplace. And the genie will fulfil them. Now the team splits up into groups of three and list their three wishes on a flip chart and hangs it on the wall for everyone to see. Every team explains why they think those three wishes are the most important ones . The ScrumMaster asks the participants what needs to change for the wishes to become true. Now the SM has a list of the most urgent impediments he/she has to take care of. The charts will be presented at the next retrospective again to see if anything has changed in the meantime.

Hot-air Balloon

  • Outcome: Identify things that influence the work flow
  • Timebox: 15 minutes
  • Material: Pens, post-its, whiteboard

The ScrumMaster should draw a hot-air balloon on the whiteboard and then ask the participants to write notes and stick them on the following areas: fire, hot air, and forces pulling down. The team has to identify what helps them to go higher and what pushes the project forward by placing those post-its on fire and hot air. Meanwhile, the things that hinders them to work productively are the forces pulling them down. This should not take more than five minutes. Then the team has 10 minutes left to discuss the issues.