110 Agile Games, Ideas, and Activities for Superb Retrospectives

Smartsheet Contributor Kate Eby

August 20, 2021

Retrospectives enable Agile teams to work together more productively and improve their processes. Discover 110 of the most fun and useful formats, games, and activities to enliven your meeting and stimulate the conversation. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a sorting tool to identify the right activity, seven of the most fun retrospective games, and the best ideas for new Agile teams.

How Do You Make a Retrospective Fun?

To make a retrospective in Agile fun, add variety, and try new activities frequently. This helps you prevent your retrospective meeting from becoming monotonous. 

As a facilitator, you’ll find that people are both more engaged and more relaxed when a  retrospective is fun. Likely, they’ll also feel safe sharing feedback and discussing sensitive topics.

That said, a retrospective is still a work meeting. Retrospectives mark the end of an Agile project or sprint (a time-bound period, such as two weeks, when a team focuses on previously defined work) and help the team improve its processes. 

Here are tips to make your retrospectives more enjoyable: 

  • Spice It Up: Rather than doing the same old, same old, vary the format, activities, and games, and change them frequently. The element of surprise sparks creativity and keeps the retrospective fresh.
  • Change Facilitators: Rotate who runs the retrospective. Put different team members in charge, not only the manager. Everyone brings their own personality to the process, so different facilitators can make the process more interesting. 
  • Find Out What the Team Enjoys: You should also solicit team feedback about each retrospective to find a format or activity that members especially enjoy, so you can do it more frequently. Constant experimentation means that a very successful retrospective idea may not crop up again for months — if ever. Bring back the favorites.
  • Try a Different Location: Change the venue. The retrospective can feel stale when you view the same conference room walls every time. Try holding retrospective meetings outside, at a coffee shop, or at a pub. People might feel more at ease and willing to share. The change will also encourage creative thinking.
  • Inject Levity: Retrospective Agile games are both productive and fun. Teams often better absorb messages when they are being silly or laughing while also learning.
  • Incorporate Movement: Include activities that get people out of their chairs and, ideally, moving around the space. This can be as simple as a stretch break, but games increase the fun and challenge. For example, you can search for items or ask each other questions. 
  • Build Around a Theme: Choose and plan activities inspired by a theme for the retrospective, decorate the space, and wear costumes. For example, you might base a retrospectives on a movie like Star Wars, a book or literary character like Harry Potter, a TV show such as The Office, a holiday like Halloween, a sport like baseball, or a pop culture reference or meme, such as reality TV stars. 
  • Play Cards: Use index cards, slips of paper, or purpose-made retrospective card decks. On each card, list an activity, technique, or game. You can draw them randomly, let your team choose ahead of the retrospective, or allow participants to draw at the start of the meeting. The card selection determines the game or idea you will use for the meeting. You can limit the choice to one card that will decide the primary activity, or divide your deck into groups of cards that relate to parts of the retrospective. Then pick one card per category, such as data gathering or identifying actions. If others are choosing and you are the facilitator, you can limit the deck to cards you feel comfortable facilitating. 
  • Don’t Let It Drag On: People check out during long meetings, so set a time-bound agenda, and keep an eye on the clock. As a rule of thumb, retrospectives should last 30 minutes per sprint or project week. That means the retrospective for an average two-week sprint should last about an hour. Keep the pace moving, so elements like ice breakers, reflections, and voting range last no longer than 10 minutes each. Devote the bulk of the retrospective to core discussion. 
  • No Whining: The goal of a retrospective is to discover what went wrong, but don’t let that conversation degenerate into a gripe session. Keep feedback on topic and make sure the team searches for actionable solutions. Aimless venting creates a negative mood, stirs up animosities, and makes people uncomfortable. 
  • Bring Snacks: Serve snacks as a mood booster and to keep morale high. Alternatively, you can hold the meeting over lunch and bring in catered sandwiches and salads, or try a potluck. To amp up the fun, tie food to your theme (Halloween candy or Star Wars cupcakes). Some fun retrospective games also incorporate different-colored candies.

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Top Seven Most Fun Retrospective Games of All Time

Retrospective facilitators and Scrum masters often want to make Agile retrospectives fun. We rounded up the Agile retrospective games and meeting ideas that teams find most entertaining. 

These activities are intended for groups that meet in person. See this article for Agile retrospective online games and activities that work for remote and distributed teams.  

Activity Name: LEGO
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: 4+
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Assorted LEGOs
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

This is one of the most fun Agile games for retrospectives because it reminds people of childhood play. People usually relax and open up, so it’s great for bonding and sharing. 

Put an assortment of LEGO pieces in the center of a table; alternatively, give each person a bag with 25 or so random LEGOs. Tell participants that everyone will build, and teammates can help each other build. Emphasize that doing is more important than designing. 

Next, pose a question, such as: What does poor team communication look like? Give participants five to 10 minutes to work with their LEGOs. Then go around the group and have each individual describe what they built.  

This game has many variations. For instance, you can ask team members to build models that symbolize the group’s goals or future. Or you can challenge participants to build a model that represents their feelings about the sprint with a restricted number of LEGOs.

Activity Name: Balloon Battle
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 6+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: String, balloons
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Give everyone a balloon to blow up and a string to tie the balloon to their right ankle. Split the group into teams of three to five people, if possible. Explain that the objective is to protect your team’s balloons for one minute of game play. At the end, the team that has the most balloons wins.

Start the clock and watch what happens. Some people prefer to go on the offensive, while others come up with clever ways to protect themselves and their teammates. You can end with a discussion of the different strategies. 

Activity Name: Easy as Pie
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Draw a circle on the board to represent a pie, and slice it into five pieces. Label the pieces as follows:

  • Cutie Pie: People to thank or recognize for an achievement
  • Easy as Pie: Parts of the work that went smoothly.
  • Pie in the Sky: Stretch goals and dreams for the team
  • Shoofly Pie: Things that went wrong, obstacles, and other negatives

Ask the group to contribute ideas for each pie wedge, and discuss them. For extra credit, bring your favorite flavor pie to share with the team.  

Activity Name: Ball Point Game
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker, Review 
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium, long 
Materials Needed: Open space, flipchart, timer, about 100 balls of tennis ball size 
Ease of Facilitation: Difficult

Agile consultant Boris Gloger developed this game. It works best with groups numbering between eight or more. All participants are on the same team, and the objective is for the team to process as many balls as possible in a set period of time (for example, two minutes). Play the game five times, and after each round discuss how you can improve. 

The rules are as follows:

  • Each player must touch every ball at least once.
  • Each ball has to end up with the person who first handled it.
  • Each ball must get air time.
  • You cannot pass a ball to the person on your immediate left or right.

Give the team two to three minutes to organize themselves. Ask them to estimate how many balls they can move through their system. Run the game for a few minutes, then pause. From there, have the team discuss process improvements. Do this five times, and debrief afterward. The game is fun and helps participants understand flow and continuous improvement. 

Activity Name: Rock, Paper, Scissors
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 6+
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Review the rules of the children’s game of rock, paper, scissors if anyone is unfamiliar with it. Explain that the group will play a whole-body variation of this as an icebreaker. Divide participants into teams. 

Select full-body poses to represent each element — for example, curl into a ball for rock, stand with feet apart and arms bent at the hips for scissors, and stand tall and straight with arms overhead for paper. During play, members of each team do the same pose.

Give the teams about 30 seconds to strategize, and then put two teams in competition. You can designate two teams for your whole group. Alternatively, you can divide the group into many teams and run multiple competitions at once.

Participants count down, and when you say “go,” everyone strikes their pose. As in the original game, rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, and paper beats rock. Play for best out of five rounds.

Activity Name: Zip, Zap, Zoom
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: An object to pass around the circle
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Place participants in a circle. Tell them to pass the object around the circle using the following commands:

  • Zip: Pass the object to the person next to you in the same direction of travel. 
  • Zap: Pass the object to the person next to you in the opposite direction of travel.
  • Zoom: Pass the object to anyone in the circle.

The facilitator calls out zip, zap, or zoom. After a player receives the object for zoom, they can decide whether the object should move clockwise or counterclockwise. This activity is energizing and funny, so it makes a great icebreaker.

Activity Name: Fishbowl Conversation
Objective or Stage: Brainstorming, review
Group Size: 8-10
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Chairs
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

This game enables big groups to hold meaningful conversations with a fun element. Put five chairs in the center. This is where the people engaged in the discussion sit. Everyone outside that circle is a listener and cannot speak. 

Have four people take a seat in the center, and leave one chair empty. When a listener wants to take part in the conversation, they move into the empty chair. This is a cue for one of the other four people to leave, usually the person who has been participating the longest or is least involved in the conversation. 

Get everyone into position and select a discussion topic of your choice. Typically, in retrospectives, the subject is how the team is functioning or the work the team does.

Ideas and Games for Retrospectives

Different Agile retrospective ideas and games help sprint and project teams think about their process in new ways. You can generate fresh insights, overcome communication barriers, and identify the most important priorities with the right activities.  

The benefits of varying the retrospective format or game include combating apathy, building engagement, and helping a team focus on a particular problem or situation. Find a collection of helpful templates in “Free Agile and Scrum Retrospective Templates.”

Agile and Scrum Sprint Retrospective Ideas and Formats

Don’t let your Agile retrospective become a rote exercise. Vary Agile retrospective themes, structure, format, and activities to keep engagement high. You want this meeting to be thought-provoking and productive. 

In Agile or Scrum projects, you hold a retrospective after every sprint, a set period of time in which you accomplish a predefined set of tasks or reach a particular milestone.

In software and many other projects, that period is typically two weeks. By holding a retrospective on this schedule, you help the team identify challenges and improvements, so it can correct its course before starting on the next round of work.

A sprint retrospective, where you focus on team processes and collaboration, is different from a sprint review, where you assess the product or project work the team achieved. For a complete guide to retrospectives, see “Title TK.”

Below, we’ve listed some popular Agile Scrum retrospective ideas for getting to the heart of the retrospective’s key questions: What worked well? What were the challenges? What should we do differently?

Activity Name: Sailboat
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, markers
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Sailboat Retrospective Template

Download Sailboat Retrospective Template

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Doc

On the whiteboard, draw a sailboat, an island, the ocean, underwater rocks, the boat’s anchor (also underwater), clouds floating on the breeze, and a full sun. (We’ve included a template with this pre-drawn image above.)

Next, ask participants to come up with answers to three questions:

  1. What were the risks during the sprint period?
  2. What caused delays in the work?
  3. What helped the work move forward?

Ask team members to write their answers on sticky notes and place them on the drawing as follows:

  • Rocks are symbols for risks and obstacles. 
  • The anchor represents bottlenecks, delays, and other challenges that slowed down the team. 
  • Wind gusts are helpful factors that enabled the team to move forward. 
  • The sun stands for what made the team feel good.
  • Land stands for the goal or destination. Place notes about the team’s vision and objectives here. 

A strong point of this activity is the opportunity to dig more deeply into influences on project success.  

Activity Name: Glad, Mad, Sad
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Mad Sad Glad Template

Download Mad, Sad, Glad Template

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Doc | Smartsheet

This retrospective activity asks participants to identify aspects of the sprint that they found negative, disappointing, and effective. 

Label three areas of the board as Mad, Sad, and Glad. Then, on their sticky notes, ask participants to write items that hampered their productivity or made their work harder. Those go in the Mad column. In the Sad column, list what crushed their morale, felt like failure, or just fell short of expectations. In the Glad column, note what went well, inspired gratitude, or should be celebrated.

Give team members time to think and put up their responses, and combine duplicates. If you have enough time, go over each item and discuss. If you do not have enough time, ask participants to vote for the topics they want to discuss and pick the top three. In your next stages, brainstorm solutions and prioritize actions. 

Activity Name: Winning Streak
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm 
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

Ask participants to think about the following questions: 

  • In our sprint, what were our biggest wins? 
  • What kinds of teamwork contributed to this success? 
  • How can we repeat that success? 
  • Who should we recognize for their strong performance?

Ask team members to note their ideas and put their sticky notes on the board in a section for the relevant question.

Unlike many retrospective games for Agile, this strengths-based activity looks exclusively at what went right and how to repeat those events. This activity works especially well after a stellar sprint, while team members’ memories are fresh, so they can identify and reinforce winning habits. 

Activity Name: Sprint Truths and a Lie
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: 3+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Paper, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Ask participants to write three statements — two truths and one lie — about the sprint or recent project work, each on a separate piece of paper. 

Then, ask each person to present their three statements, and have the group vote on the false statement. The speaker reveals the answer. Set aside any statement, whether a truth or a lie, that sheds light on an area that needs improvement. 

After everyone has presented, discuss these significant answers. Brainstorm ways to address the issue. From there, the team can select a handful to implement in the next sprint.   

Activity Name: Mountain Climber
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard or flipchart paper, pens, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

Identify three to five topics that you want your team to reflect on, such as communication or teamwork. On a whiteboard or flipchart, draw a mountain for each topic and add a label with the topic name. You can also detail each mountain with snow, trees, features, bridges, and people.  

Tell the team that being effective in each area is similar to climbing a mountain, with challenges and hazards in the way. Success comes from taking step after step, understanding the obstacles, and preparing for them (similar to how you might research the weather forecast and pack accordingly). 

Ask team members to take turns at each mountain and write down (on sticky notes) their idea of the view at the top. What sort of teamwork is required to get there? What were the obstacles and risks? Then, ask participants to brainstorm ideas that could help them scale that peak, such as skills, changes, tools, and knowledge. 

Next, ask them to label each peak with its difficulty level. Stick ideas that are easy to implement near the base of the mountain, and put difficult ones near the top. Then ask participants to comment and make suggestions on each others’ notes. Finally, vote on what will have the most impact. Choose the top five and identify the steps to implement them. 

Activity Name: Basketball Team
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group size: Any
Time: Medium, Long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy, medium

This activity compares the sprint to a basketball game and helps team members to better understand their roles. Ask each participant to consider the work they performed in the last sprint in the following categories:

  • Shoot: What work did I complete?
  • Assist: What did I do to help teammates?
  • Pass: What help did I receive?
  • Position: What role do I fill on the team?

Ask the group to think of names for roles on the team, similar to basketball’s center and guard. This list can include job titles, but you should encourage the team to think outside the box. For example, does someone have a knack for rallying the team when things are going wrong (i.e., a morale booster)? Remember that people probably play multiple roles. 

End by asking the group to think about a goal and how they can use their new understanding of teamwork to achieve it. 

Activity Name: Three Little Pigs
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Recap the childhood fable “The Three Little Pigs.” Remind the group that the wolf had an easy time blowing down the house made of straw and faced only a little more difficulty knocking down the house made of sticks. But the wolf could not destroy the house made of bricks. 

Ask participants to draw parallels to the fable: What aspects of the project or team cooperation are in the house of straw (what is not working well or is at risk of falling apart); what is in the house of sticks (what needs shoring up or improvement); and what is in the house of bricks (what is strong). You can give the team a specific focus, such as your product or how the group works together.

Look for commonalities in the answers, and brainstorm actions to address the issues in the next sprint. 

Activity Name: Starfish
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium, or long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, pens, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Starfish Retrospective Template

Download Starfish Retrospective Template

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Doc

This activity is inspired by the many legs of the starfish. Ask the team to consider what belongs in the following categories:

  • Continue Doing: These are the behaviors, attitudes, and practices that are succeeding and support the team’s good work.
  • Do Less Of: These are behaviors and practices that hinder the group, such as by decreasing efficiency or stoking mistrust. 
  • Do More Of: These are helpful activities that the team wants to do more often.
  • Stop Doing: These practices are not worth the effort or might be counterproductive.
  • Start Doing: These are suggestions, new ideas, or options that worked in the past that the team wants to introduce to the current project or spring.

Discuss the suggestions and come up with a list of actions in priority order.

Activity Name: 4Ls
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, pens, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Easy, medium

4Ls Template

Download 4Ls Template

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Doc

Ask the team to think about the last sprint and write down (on sticky notes) aspects that belong in each of the following categories:

  • Liked: What went well 
  • Learned: Discoveries or insights 
  • Lacked: Missing elements that hindered progress, including communication or clarity 
  • Longed For: What participants would have liked to see or would have enhanced the process 

Mark areas on the whiteboard for each category, ask participants to put their sticky notes in the appropriate area, and discuss. Identify follow-up actions. 

Activity Name: KALM
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, pens, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy, medium 

Draw four columns on the whiteboard, and label them as Keep, Less, More, and Add. Ask participants to brainstorm ideas for each category. You are looking for practices, behaviors, and attitudes that the team wants to continue doing, do more of, decrease, or introduce. Group similar ideas together. Discuss which could have the most positive impact; from those, choose a handful for priority focus.

Activity Name: SWOT
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Easy, medium

This activity is a variation on a classic SWOT business strategy. Draw a box with four quadrants, and label them as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

List the group’s success factors and what they do well in the Strengths box, and areas for improvement in the Weaknesses box. In the Opportunities box, ask participants to reflect on their strengths and identify aspects of the group’s work where they can apply leadership or special skills to advance the team. In the Threats box, ask individuals to consider their weaknesses and identify obstacles or deficits they need to overcome to support the team effort.

Make sure every team member gives input, and discuss the findings. Identify follow-up actions. 

Activity Name: Timeline
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

Create horizontal (time) and vertical (mood) axes on a whiteboard. Allow the group 10 minutes to think about how work has progressed in the given period of time. (It can be helpful to recap key events, such as project milestones or a bug.) 

Have each person present their timeline to the group by posting their sticky notes at the intersection of the event date and their mood about the event. Draw a line through each person’s points to show trends. Then compare events and trend lines among participants. 

Overlapping points denote an important occurrence for the team, so discuss the event and how participants felt about it. If there are remarkable divergences, probe how one member’s high point could have been the depths of disappointment for another. Record follow-up actions.

Activity Name: Story
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, markers, and pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

This activity tracks the path of work execution. Focus on one element or workflow (e.g., product testing), and write it on the board. Then, write or add sticky notes for events and developments on its path to completion. 

Ask participants to suggest key moments to record. With each addition, ask the group to discuss any aspects of the event that were successful, disappointing, or problematic. Did the group overlook anything? What, if anything, happened that resulted in unexpected consequences? 

Keep a running list to the side of ideas to repeat, avoid, or act on.  

Activity Name: Start, Stop, Continue
Objective or Stage: Brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, markers
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Start Stop Continue Template

Download Start, Stop, Continue Template

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Doc | Smartsheet

Ask participants to think of the team’s recent work like a car in traffic, and to consider the associated events, practices, and outcomes as a green, red, or yellow light. 

Those in the “start” (green light) category are ideas that the group believes it should try. Red light or “stop” ideas represent steps that are not working or obstacles. The yellow light or “continue” category covers elements that are working or the team should continue pursuing because their impact is not yet clear. 

Then, ask hypothetical questions to spur conversation, such as the following: What are the things we do that make our customers the happiest? If we were able to add a team member, what new work should we take on? 

Discuss input and determine action strategies.

Activity Name: Wow, Wondering, Worried
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw a graph, and along the horizontal axis, list items for which you want the team’s feedback — this could be any detail relevant to the team, such as team assignments, communication practices, or meetings. Then label the vertical axis with three levels: worried, wondering, and wow

Have each person put a sticky note (with their initials) on the vertical axis, at the level that represents their feeling about the issue (worried, wondering, or wow). This will show where the team feels collectively worried or positive. Have people articulate what they are wondering about, and discuss how the group can improve upon those aspects. Look for ways to follow up on these items and take action in the next sprint. 

Activity Name: 2 x 2
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw a square, and divide it into four quadrants. Fill in each quadrant with a drawing, emoji, or word around a theme. For example, you could choose modes of transportation (bike, car, airplane, and rocket), or use structures (tent, beach bungalow, log cabin, and castle).  

Ask participants to write in each quadrant parts of the work that best match the picture or word. For example, a slow, drawn-out piece of coding might go into the bike box, while a solution to an architecture problem that made the product much better might go in the rocket box. Request that team members put at least one item in each box, and then discuss their choices and reasons.  

Activity Name: Perfection Game
Objective or Stage: Review, Brainstorm
Group Size: All
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw a three-column chart on the whiteboard. Write each participant’s name in the first column.

Ask each team member to rank the last sprint or work set on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. Put each person’s number in the second column. Have people discuss the reasons for their ratings. Calculate the average. (You might record this number for reference in a future retrospective.)

Then ask team members what would earn the next sprint or project phase a perfect score of 10. Record suggestions in the third column. You can write directly on the board or use sticky notes.

Retrospective Games for New Agile Teams

New Agile teams face challenges in performing successful retrospectives. Candor and communication might suffer if members do not yet feel comfortable with each other. Without a history of work together, participants might not share a common frame of reference. Therefore, when selecting an Agile team retrospective activity, consider the participants’ experience levels with Agile, each other, and the organization at large.

For teams that primarily consist of people new to Agile, a retrospective can help to familiarize people with the concepts and methods of working together. Openly discuss people’s experience with the practices to help people feel comfortable. 

In general, retrospective ideas for new Agile teams focus on learning about each other and establishing team norms. For participants who are experienced in Agile but new to the team, the retrospective can help individuals feel more settled in their roles and ways of working together. Agile retrospective games and icebreakers can help put everyone at ease. 

Activity Name: Peer Introduction
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: All
Time: Short, medium, or long depending on group size
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

This activity is great for creating bonds among new teammates. Divide the group into pairs, and match people with someone they do not know well. Give the pairs a few minutes to chat and learn details about each other. Let them know they will later do introductions. You can let participants decide what to cover, or give some prompts, such as favorite color, birthplace, and most exotic trip. When participants have gathered some information, bring the group back together. Each person introduces their partner with a summary of what they learned.  

Activity Name: Speedy Retrospective
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: All
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Quick Retrospective Template

Download Quick Retrospective Template

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Doc | Smartsheet

This format is efficient and gets right to the point, which makes it a good fit for new teams. Draw four quadrants on the whiteboard, and label them Good, Bad, Ideas, and Actions. Ask participants to write down thoughts in each category and add their notes to the board. When everyone is done, review the board, and discuss. Agree on actions to try in the next sprint. 

Activity Name: RACI Matrix 
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

You can use a RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) matrix to clarify role assignments and responsibilities on a new team. For a deep dive on the RACI model, read our comprehensive guide.

For this activity, create a five-column chart. List team members in the first column, and label the next four columns R, A, C, and I. For each row, mark whether the team member is responsible, accountable, consulted, or informed in the sprint work. This helps everyone understand their role and how the team works. 

Activity Name: Ground Rules
Objective or Stage: Setting expectations
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard
Ease of Facilitation: Difficult

This activity helps teams agree on how participants will work together and avoid problems. Draw a line down the middle of the whiteboard and label the columns Norms and Processes

In the Processes column, have team members write how they want work to be executed. In the Norms column, write expectations for team member interaction. (For example, one norm might be that everyone arrives on time for the daily standup and no one looks at their phone during the meeting.) Discuss the ideas and move forward with the ones that many team members feel strongly about.  

Activity Name: Meet One, Meet All
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker, review 
Group Size: 10+
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: A chair for every person, timer
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

Create a circle of chairs facing toward the center. In the middle of this circle, make another circle of chairs facing outward. Give participants a moment to chat with the person facing them, and then have the pair exchange get-acquainted information or feedback on the recent sprint. When time is up, ask people in the outer circle to move one chair to the right, and they repeat the process with their new partner. 

When you’ve gone around the circle, divide the inner and outer participants and combine them into new groups. Repeat the exercise until everyone has been paired with each other. 

Regather the group as one. For teams using this as an opportunity to get to know one another, go person by person and ask the group what they learned about the other individuals. Otherwise, ask for themes in the feedback. Recognize successes and solicit suggestions for improvement. End with a small list of actions to implement in the next sprint. 

Activity Name: Energy Levels
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

The activity aims to help team members gain awareness about the quality of their work and the effectiveness of teamwork. It’s a good game to play with teams that are only a few months into working together. 

Ask the participants the following questions:

  • What did you find energizing?
  • What was draining?
  • Which tasks or activities demanded the right amount of energy for the job?
  • How would you rate your energy level for the next sprint?

Discuss the results. You may find that one person loves what another hates — this presents an opportunity to shift roles to everyone’s advantage. If the group’s energy level is low for the next sprint, brainstorm actions to boost morale.

Activity Name: Team Vision Statement
Objective or Stage: Bonding a new team
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Difficult

Team Vision Statement Template

Download Team Vision Statement Template

Microsoft Excel | Microsoft Word | Google Docs | Adobe PDF

This activity is similar to Mad Libs, and the goal is to come up with a team vision. Put a series of boxes on the whiteboard and label them as follows:

  • For: Company or organization
  • Need: Objective or desire
  • Who: Identifier 
  • Is A: Descriptor
  • That: Reason 
  • Unlike: Alternative
  • Differentator: How the group stands out

Divide participants into small groups and ask each one to come up with a version of a statement using this structure.

Here’s an example: “For Acme Applications, which wants to be customers’ first choice of app developers, the developer team members are continuously learning so that they can innovate. Unlike teams that are content to do the same thing over and over, our team looks for ways to improve communication, reduce tedious work, and provide learning opportunities for all team members.”  

Come back together and discuss what each group wrote. See if you can find consensus around a combined version. The vision statement can evolve over time as you revisit it in future retrospectives.

When to Use Games and Activities: Stages and Objectives of Retrospectives

Most retrospectives include the following six stages, and games and activities typically work well in stages two through six:

  1. Set the Stage: First, the facilitator gives context for the retrospective: Why are you holding the meeting? What will the meeting cover? What is the format? This stage doesn’t typically involve activities. Teams may also review a shared agreement, like Norm Kerth’s Prime Directive, which states that the retrospective is an opportunity for the team to learn and improve without laying blame.
  2. Icebreaker: This is a short activity to energize the team. The goal is to get people talking, connecting with one another, and building trust. Instead of using an icebreaker, some Agile Scrum teams try a learning game or activity that covers Agile concepts.
  3. Review: During the review, gather information from the team about what went well and what needs improvement. This phase starts the core of the retrospective.
  4. Brainstorm: Here, participants reflect on collaboration and offer insights into how the team can improve upon work processes. The facilitator makes sure participants hear all voices and ideas. 
  5. Prioritize: The team identifies the best ideas among the suggestions (you might do this by voting). Narrow down the ideas to a small set of priority actions to implement, which can drive continuous improvement.
  6. Closing: This is a final opportunity for the team to check in. You might do a short activity  here to make sure each person feels heard and understands what comes next.

Games and Activities by Retrospective Stage and Objective

Agile Scrum retrospective games often target a particular stage or objective of the meeting. Alternatively, an Agile retrospective format may shape the whole meeting. Following is a listing of games and activities by purpose and phase.

Icebreakers and Other Games and Activities for Starting Retrospectives

Icebreakers help create a casual and energized mood for the retrospective. These opening games and activities can also serve a larger purpose, such as helping teammates bond, creating a sense of safety, or reinforcing principles of Agile and Scrum.

During a retrospective, team members need to feel comfortable speaking honestly before they offer candid criticism or suggestions. If they fear backlash or retribution, participants will either keep quiet or say what they think others want to hear. Certain activities work especially well for checking the group’s feelings about safety and increasing the sense of safety. The beginning of a meeting is also often a good time for a game or physical activity that deepens the team’s understanding of Agile principles. 

Activity Name: 60 Steps
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: A room with furniture and other obstacles, masking tape, a timer
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

With masking tape, create a boundary around the room with limited space between the outside edge and obstacles such as chairs, desks, and waste bins. Divide participants into pairs. One person in the pair is the manager, and the other is the worker. 

Tell the pairs to find a route through a minefield and that the tape represents the edges. Their objective is for the worker to take 60 steps. The manager must direct the worker with only these instructions: Step forward (one full step, no moving in place), stop, turn right at a 90-degree angle, and turn left at a 90-degree angle. The manager counts the number of steps the worker takes.

Start a timer for a minute. The facilitator can roam around, making progress more difficult by moving objects into people’s paths, obstructing the path, etc.

When time is up, ask managers how many steps their workers took. (Many will have no idea because of how chaotic the play was.) Ask managers how they felt. Typically, they report feeling stressed and unproductive. This illustrates the effects of micromanaging. Ask the same of workers, who typically abandon any attempt at problem solving because the activity removes their sense of agency. Ask people to describe the noise level and energy in the room during the activity.

In a second round, break up the pairs. Each person now has the goal to take 60 steps individually without a manager. Each person counts their own steps. Set the timer for one minute, and again act as a roaming obstacle. After this round, participants usually report they achieved the 60-step goal. The general atmosphere was quiet and calm. Ask what made the difference, such as being able to make their own decisions. This drives home the self-organizing nature of Agile teams. 

Activity Name: Triangles
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 9+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Open space
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Have participants move around the room at random. When you say the word “triangle,” each person joins with two others to make a triangle. Time how long it takes for everyone to become a part of a triangle.

In a second round, name someone as the organizer. Again, ask the participants to move randomly. When you say the word “triangle,” the organizer groups everyone into triangles. Time how long this takes.

The first round is likely shorter, and participants enjoy it more because they are more engaged. This illustrates the self-organizing team. The second demonstrates a top-down management style. Ask the group to discuss the results. 

Activity Name: Human Knot
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 9+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Space
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Ask group members to stand in a circle. Tell participants to raise their right hand and grab the hand of a person across the circle. Then ask participants to raise their left hand and grab the hand of a different person across the circle.

Check that everyone is holding hands with two different people and neither is next to each other. 

Instruct the group to untangle and move back into a circle without letting go of anyone’s hand. If the chain breaks, the group starts over. You can make this more challenging by blindfolding or muting participants. 

Have the group discuss how the experience felt. Did they develop strategies to complete the challenge? Did any natural leaders arise? Did a consensus emerge? How was team communication? Record the learning points.

Activity Name: Human Sculpture
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Space 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Divide the group into subgroups of four to five people. Each small group forms a human sculpture with only two feet on the ground. People can climb on, stand on, and hold each other. They must hold the structure long enough to snap a photo. Have judges or nonparticipants pick the most creative sculpture.

This game works best when team members know and feel comfortable with each other. Allow anyone who doesn’t want to participate to be a judge. The goal is to explore different ways of working as a team and share some laughs.

Activity Name: Ball Flow Game
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Open space, timer, 20 balls that fit in the hand
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

The game is similar to the Ball Point game, but the goal is to handle 20 balls as quickly as possible, rather than to maximize the number of balls in a set period. All participants are on the same team.

The rules are as follows:

  • Each player must touch every ball at least once.
  • Each ball has to end up with the person who first handled it.
  • Each ball must get air time.
  • You cannot pass a ball to the person on your immediate left or right.

Run the game for several rounds and time how long it takes for 20 balls to get through the whole group. Discuss ways to improve each time. This variation teaches participants about limiting work in progress and continuous improvement.  

Activity Name: Line Up
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Have participants quickly form a line in order of arbitrary criteria, such as height, age, or hair color — without using spoken or written directions. After establishing the two endpoints of the line, the ordering may become more complex. This game generates laughs and highlights the importance of communication. 

Activity Name: Weather Report 
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers, optional weather symbol printouts
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw common weather symbols on the whiteboard (or post pictures of them), including sunny skies, partly cloudy, raining, a tornado, snow, etc. Ask participants to put their initials on a sticky note next to the symbol that best matches their mood. Go around the room and have people explain their choices. If this reveals an issue simmering beneath the surface, that may be a more important topic for the retrospective than the original agenda.

Activity Name: How Do You Feel
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers, sticky notes, optional printouts of emojis 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw or post pictures of emojis that express various moods, such as happy, sad, worried, tired, angry, etc. Ask participants to put their initials on a sticky note next to the emoji that represents their mood. Have each participant explain their choice. This could unearth important issues. 

Activity Name: Presto Manifesto 
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 4+
Time: Medium, long
Materials needed: Paper, pens

As a larger group, discuss what contributes to project success. Then, divide participants into small groups (or, for very small groups, have each person work individually). Have each subgroup or participant brainstorm elements of successful projects and those they feel are the most important. Have subgroup members agree upon and sign their list, which they will refer to as their “manifesto.” 

Groups then share the lists. Call out similarities, and refer back to them over the course of your work together. You can also compare the attributes to those in the Agile manifesto.

Activity Name: Your Superpower
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker, review
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Sticky notes, paper, pens, whiteboard
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Have each participant write down their superpower as it relates to the team’s work. Read the responses aloud one by one, and ask the group to guess whose it is. If no one guesses in three tries, reveal the name. Put the name on the board next to the superpower. 

As a group, discuss what you found surprising, how the superpowers contribute to the team, and ideas they found to help their own work. You could also explore any potential negative impacts of superpowers. For example, can confidence make a person liable not to double-check their work?

Activity Name: Seasons
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker, review
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, markers
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw pictures that represent the four seasons, like a tree with autumn leaves falling, a snowman, and swimmers at the beach. You can also add descriptions to the pictures that relate to the season (for example, the words growth, renewal, and light could go with the spring picture). Ask the group to pick the season that best describes the retrospective for them. This activity elicits people’s feelings around the work in a new way.

Activity Name: ESVP
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pen 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Ask participants to write an anonymous note summarizing their feelings toward the retrospective, under the tags of Explorers (excited about the project and discovering new ideas), Shoppers (will browse through the information offered and may take home a helpful tip or idea), Vacationers (not engaged in the retrospective but pleased to have a break from routine tasks), and Prisoners (feel compelled to attend and unhappy to be there). Tally the results and share them with the group. Discuss what they mean and how they affect what will happen in the meeting. 

Activity Name: First Job or Fun Fact
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Provide everyone with pens and sticky notes, and have them write down their first job using block letters (to make handwriting harder to identify). Gather the notes and have participants draw from the hat one by one. Each person reads the job aloud and guesses who it belongs to. This activity helps teams get to know each other. You can vary the play by asking participants to write a fun fact about themselves and repeat the same steps.

Activity Name: The Ball Asks
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 3+
Time: Short, medium depending on group size
Materials Needed: Ball
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Gather the group in a circle. Toss the ball to someone, and ask them a question. The person answers the question and throws it to someone else. The questions should be lighthearted, such as: What’s your favorite meal? Who is your favorite superhero and why? What’s your spirit animal and why? 

Activity Name: Shock Wave
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 10+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: None 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

This is a quick activity to energize a group and have some fun. Have participants stand in a circle and hold hands. Explain that everyone will close their eyes when the activity begins. The facilitator, who stands outside the circle, will quietly tap one person on the shoulder, starting the “shock wave.” 

The person who receives the tap moves both arms simultaneously in a wave motion. Anyone who receives the wave passes it along in their other arm, and the wave travels around the circle in two directions. The person who receives the wave in both arms simultaneously says, “Boom!” 

Activity Name: Isn’t That Crazy? 
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short, medium depending on group size
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Have participants stand in a circle. Explain that the first person will begin by saying, “Isn’t it crazy?” Each successive person in the circle builds onto the story by adding three words, until the story has traveled around the whole circle. 

Activity Name: Guess My Favorite Song
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: All
Time: Short, medium
Materials needed: Paper, pens, optional streaming music service
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Ask each person to write their favorite song on a slip of paper and put it in a bowl. Mix up the slips. Have participants take turns picking a slip, reading the song name, and trying to guess whose favorite song it is. 

Optionally, you can play the song using a streaming music service or with YouTube videos. You can also open the guessing to the whole group at once, rather than having individuals guess one by one. This activity promotes camaraderie and team building. 

Activity Name: Face Drawing
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 10+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Paper, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Make sure all participants have a piece of paper with their name written in the corner. Instruct everyone to walk around the space until you call, “Stop!” At this point, they find a partner and exchange papers. Have each pair draw their partner’s eyes, then return the paper to its original owner. 

Ask participants to resume walking. The next time you say, “Stop,” they repeat the earlier process but draw each other’s hair, nose, or mouth. Continue on until participants have a full face sketch. 

This game promotes bonding and is a good way to get people to loosen up. 

Activity Name: Compass 
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Masking tape, paper, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Using masking tape, mark the directions north, south, east, and west in a simple compass at the center of the room. Put a sign on the corresponding wall. It’s not important for the directions to be completely accurate. 

Compile a list of yes/no questions in advance about people’s personalities, tastes, and preferences. For example: Do you sing along to music in the car? Do you prefer to stay home on a Saturday night? Do you generally schedule your days instead of being spontaneous? Are you optimistic about the future?

Pose a question to the group, and tell participants to move to the north corner if their answer is yes and south if it is no. Then, ask another question, with yes and no corresponding to east and west, respectively. Players move again according to their responses. 

This activity gets people moving and helps everyone to learn a bit about each other. It’s also a nice illustration for how teammates can feel close to each other at certain times and not at others. 

Activity Name: Prompt Patricia
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: None 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Tell group members to think of an adjective that starts with the first letter of their name. In a circle, the first person says their adjective and name (for example, “Prompt Patricia”). The next person repeats the first adjective-name pairing and adds their own adjective and name. The third person repeats the first two and adds theirs, and so on around the circle. Then, try repeating the name chain counterclockwise. 

Activity Name: Visual Telephone
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 6+
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Divide the group into teams of three. Provide each person with three sticky notes and a pen. Have everyone write a sentence on their sticky note and put a blank sticky note on top. Pass the stacks of sticky notes to the left.

Everyone reads the sentence on the bottom sticky note and draws an illustration of that sentence on the top blank sticky note. Participants again pass the sticky notes to the left. The next recipient writes a sentence on their third sticky note describing the drawing they received and puts it on top. The set of three sticky notes moves left again, ending with the person who wrote the original sentence. 

Pull the sticky notes apart and look at the drawing and sentences. This usually generates laughs as players compare drawings. 

Activity Name: One Two Ping Four Pong
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 6+
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

This game is a brain teaser and gets people laughing. Put participants in a circle. The first person begins by calling out a number that is not divisible by three or five.

The next person adds one to the number and if it is not divisible by three or five, calls it out. If it is divisible by three, the person calls out “ping,” and then hops. If the number is divisible by five, the person shouts “pong,” and claps. Continue around the circle. In big groups, a person who makes a mistake drops out. 

Activity Name: Safety Check
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Paper, pens, whiteboard
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Request that participants write down a number from one to five that reflects how safe they feel speaking their mind in the group (one represents not feeling safe, and five represents feeling very comfortable and willing to talk). Collect the slips of paper, mark the answers on the board, and calculate the average. Discuss the findings and how it might affect the retrospective. 

To probe this topic more deeply, ask the group why some team members may not feel safe talking about certain topics. Have them write possible reasons on sticky notes and put them on the whiteboard, and cluster similar ideas. Prompt the group to brainstorm how to increase a sense of safety and what could overcome the root causes of insecurity. Put those sticky notes alongside the relevant reason. Review all the notes and discuss.  

Activity Name: Candy Quiz
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Different-colored candies, such as M&Ms or jelly beans
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Put the candy in a jar and pass it around the group. As each person picks a candy, have them answer a question according to the color. For example, a green candy could prompt, “What is your favorite food?” or a red candy could prompt, “What is the number one thing on your bucket list?” 

Activity Name: 360 Degrees
Objective or Stage: Icebreaker
Group Size: 4-12
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Paper, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

This is a good activity for a team that has come through a stressful time that may have created some tension among members. 

Ask group members to write down something meaningful that they appreciate about each person. Give the group about one minute per person to work on this.

Then, have participants sit in a circle, with one member at the center. Go around the circle and have each participant say something they appreciate about the person in the center. Swap out who sits in the middle until everyone has had a turn.

Activities and Games for the Middle of Retrospectives: Review and Brainstorming

Activities and games for the middle portion of the Agile retrospective tackle the core purposes of the meeting. These activities help you review what happened in the work period and brainstorm ideas for improvements. Some activities incorporate both elements, while others focus on one or the other. 

Agile retrospective games for review typically prompt participants to think back on the sprint work in a structured way. The Agile retrospective format for brainstorming generally seeks to spur creative problem solving.

Activity Name: Scrum Values
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, paper, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Remind the group of the Scrum values: commitment, openness, focus, respect, and courage. Ask each participant to write how they feel the team performs on each value, on a scale of one to five (five being the best). Total the points for each value from all participants. 

Then, in a second round, ask each person to order the values based on how well the team performs on each, again on a scale of one to five. This time, respondents can only award each numerical score one time. (In the first round, the team could score fives for both respect and focus, but in this round, one value would have to be a five and the other a four.) Again, total the points. 

Map these scores on a radar chart, and divide a circle into five pie wedges. Label each wedge with a value. Then, mark scores in concentric circles from zero at the center, moving higher as you go outward. The outer edge is the highest score. Map scores from each round, overlaying one over the other. If there are large divergences in how the team scored a value between rounds, this could signal areas where the team is out of alignment and could benefit from discussion.

Radar Chart of Scrum Values for Retrospective Activity

 

Activity Name: Lean Coffee
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Sticky notes, whiteboard, pens, timer
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Jim Benson and Jeremy Lightsmith developed Lean Coffee as the lightest-possible structure for a productive meeting. The name refers to Lean thinking and a casual gathering, such as over coffee. 

Create a Kanban board with columns labeled To-Do, Doing, Done, and Actions. The group members write one potential topic for discussion on each sticky note. If you want, you can provide a theme for the topics. Put all the topics in the To-Do column. Briefly go through them, and summarize the topic. 

Participants vote on the topics. Give each person a certain number of dots to use, which represent their votes. Have participants put dots on the topics they want to discuss. (They can put all votes toward one topic if they wish.) Pick the topics that get the most votes and put them to the top of the To-Do column. Move the first one to the Doing column.

Put five minutes on the timer and discuss the topic. At the end of the session, ask people if they want to continue discussing the topic. They vote with thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs sideways. If the majority wants to continue, set the timer again for a shorter window. Repeat this cycle until the group loses interest in the topic and move the topic to the Done column. Bring the next highest card over to the Doing column. 

As the meeting time winds down, ask the group for insights or actions from the discussion, and write these in the Actions column. Take a photo or record these ideas. 

Activity Name: Well, Learned, Different, Puzzle
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

On the whiteboard, designate four areas as follows: Went Well, What We Learned, What We Would Do Differently, and What Puzzles Us

Ask the team to contribute ideas on sticky notes for each section by thinking back to the recently completed sprint. Discuss the results, and consider if any follow-up action would be helpful.

Activity Name: FLAT
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Divide the board into four quadrants labeled Lessons, Future Direction, Accomplishments, and Thank You. Ask participants to write notes about what they learned, what they are proud of, and how they plan to work in the future. You can also use this time to thank team members who made important contributions. 

Give participants some time to think and write their notes. Post them in the right section of the board. When everyone is done, discuss and share reflections. 

Activity Name: Error Conversation
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Ask team members to write down every mistake that occurred in the sprint, each on its own sticky note. Draw two columns on the board, labeled Errors of Commission (those that happened through action) and Errors of Omission (those that occurred as a result of inaction).

Ask each person to share an error, put it in the appropriate column, and discuss it briefly. Group similar mistakes together, and seek solutions and actions to address them. Reserve this activity for a mature team that feels comfortable admitting mistakes, and make sure that no individual feels targeted or attacked. 

Activity Name: Good, Bad, and Ugly
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy, medium

Mark three sections on the board labeled Good (practices that are working well), Bad (things that should be eliminated), and Ugly (areas for improvement). Ask participants to write on sticky notes items that belong in each category. Discuss and identify action plans for the bad and the ugly.

Activity Name: Pain vs. Gain (or Pleasure and Gain)
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy, medium

On the whiteboard, draw intersecting vertical and horizontal lines so that you have four quadrants. Label the top of the vertical line Pleasure and the bottom Pain. Label the far right of the horizontal line Gain and the far left Loss. Tell participants to write on individual sticky notes the tasks and work they handle on the project. 

Give the team 10 minutes to work, and then ask people to put their sticky notes on the graph. Explain that the upper-right quadrant is often called the “magic quadrant” because it encompasses items that score highly on both spectrums. In this activity, that quadrant is for work that offers both pleasure and gain, meaning it is both enjoyable and productive — in other words, work that the group should prioritize. 

In the bottom-right quadrant, work delivers gains but is not enjoyable. The team needs to keep doing this work because it contributes to the project. That said, ask for ideas on how these tasks can become more enjoyable. Note any action items. 

Activities in the upper-left quadrant are enjoyable but do not contribute to larger gains. Ask the group to consider ways to make these gainful. If that is not possible, discontinue this work. 

Work in the bottom left is painful and doesn’t contribute. Stop doing these activities. Discuss why they arose in the first place and if something changed from their original intention.

Activity Name: Is-Is Not, Does-Does Not
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Divide the whiteboard into four quadrants, and label them Is, Is Not, Does, and Does Not. Prompt the group to write characteristics about the team that fit into each quadrant, one per sticky note. 

Participants can write notes that they want to be part of the team’s culture, such as, “The team is accountable to one another” or “The team does put customers first.” Alternatively, they can note shortcomings such as, “The team does not take deadlines seriously.”

Once everyone has posted their notes in the right spot, review them one by one and discuss.

Activity Name: Health Check 
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: 8-10
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Paper, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Difficult

Spotify, the company that originated this game, offers detailed directions and downloadable facilitation cards.  

Identify key aspects of quality teams in your organization (Spotify uses 11 aspects, including learning, teamwork, speed, and fun). Then, discuss how the company is performing on each of the attributes. Ask participants to rate the team as red (poor results), green (great results), or yellow (somewhere in between.) 

Once you’ve reached a consensus, fill out a chart that lists the attributes on rows and has columns for dates. Put a dot of the correct color in each row under the date, based on the results of the meeting. You can also add an arrow for a trend (for example, green with a down arrow would mean performance is great but deteriorating). 

Perform this activity periodically to spot areas where the team is struggling and to identify trends. If you manage multiple teams, look at health check visualizations for all of the teams to gain a quick sense of how they are doing.  

Remember to emphasize that this self-assessment activity is for the benefit of the team, not an evaluation tool for management. The health check only has value if the team is honest and believes the organization uses the tool in good faith.

Agile Retrospective Health Check Visualization

Activity Name: KonMari Retrospective
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, pens, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Based on the techniques of Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo, this activity asks participants to identify team practices that belong in three categories: Spark Joy, Recycle, and Throw Away.

Divide your whiteboard into these three areas and have participants write notes for all the categories. Ask each team member to read their notes aloud and post them on the board. Then discuss any patterns or surprises, as well as any actions the notes suggest.

Activity Name: True North
Objective or Stage: Brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

Ask participants to describe what “true north” (achieving all goals) means for the team. Prompt the discussion by saying, “Suppose by some miracle all our obstacles disappeared and all problems were solved. What would that look like? How would things change?”

Once the team has established what the “true north” ideal looks like, ask participants to rate where the group is now between zero and 10, with 10 being that perfect state. Ask participants to name practices and norms that are currently working, and list them on the board. 

Then, have participants brainstorm how the team could move one step closer to a 10 using the resources currently available. List those and prioritize the most popular suggestions for action. 

Activity Name: Letter to the Future
Objective or Stage: Brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Paper, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Instruct participants to think about the team’s work and a colleague, subordinate, or boss who they would like to write a letter to in the future. Then, ask them to compose a short letter, imagining a future self. The topic should be something in the context of the team’s work or the organization, but beyond that, there are no restrictions. 

After giving the group some time to write the letters, gather everyone back together. Ask each person to read their letter aloud. Discuss the ideas they raise and see if they spur any insights into the work.

Activity Name: Well, Not So Well, New Ideas
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw three columns on the whiteboard, and label them Well, Not So Well, and New Ideas. Explain to participants that they should write on sticky notes what went well and not so well during the retrospective, along with suggestions and potential improvements for the next sprint. Discuss the responses and prioritize follow-up actions.

Activity Name: Open the Box
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Draw a box in the center of the whiteboard. Around it designate three areas: things that the team should add to the box, things they should remove, and things already in the box that the team should keep. 

Have participants think back on the sprint and write on sticky notes ideas for each section. Have them put their notes in the right spot on the board and explain them. Discuss and develop follow-up actions.

Activity Name: Marginal Wins
Objective or Stage: Brainstorming
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pen
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

Set the stage by explaining that transforming a process by 100 percent is challenging, but that generating 1 percent improvement on 100 things is far more doable. Tell the team that the point of the activity is to identify these quick wins — small changes that are easy to implement and bring incremental benefits.

Ask the group to brainstorm some small process improvements and write the suggestions on sticky notes. Put them on the board and discuss.

Activity Name: Known Issues
Objective or Stage: Brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Use this activity when you have already identified problems or haven’t had enough time to talk through solutions. Divide the group into small teams and instruct each team to write down the known problems the team faces. Group similar ones together on the board. 

Then, tell participants to think about solutions to the issues. Write these ideas on sticky notes of a different color, and place the solutions next to the related problem. Discuss which are likely to be most effective and assign those. 

Activity Name: Hot Air Balloon
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Draw a hot air balloon with sandbags on the side. Above the balloon, sketch storm clouds on one side and a full sun on another. Explain to the group that their work together is like piloting a hot air balloon.

Ask participants to write down ideas on sticky notes in the following categories: 

  • Hot air buoys the balloon and helps it move forward.
  • Sandbags weigh the group down.
  • Storm clouds are risks and obstacles ahead.
  • Sunshine represents opportunities and positive things in the future.

Have individuals put their notes in the appropriate area on the board and explain them to the group. Group similar ideas together, and discuss solutions to some of the common themes. Create actions for implementation. 

Activity Name: Race Car
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Put a picture or drawing of a race car on the board. Label the front of the car as Engine and label another area near the wheels as Flat Tire. Ask the group to write on sticky notes what drives work forward (engines) and what holds it back or presents obstacles (flat tires). Discuss the findings and brainstorm solutions.

Activity Name: WWW (Worked Well, Kinda Worked, Didn’t Work)
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens, markers
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw three columns on the whiteboard, and label them Worked Well, Kinda Worked, and Didn’t Work. Tell participants to write down notes from the sprint that fall into each of these categories. Then, put the responses in the appropriate column. Discuss and prioritize follow-up actions.

Activity Name: FLAP
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Label four boxes on the whiteboard: Future Considerations (focus areas for the next sprint), Lessons Learned (critical takeaways), Accomplishments (notable achievements), and Problems (things that need solutions). Ask participants to write sticky notes for each category. Discuss the team’s ideas. 

Activity Name: FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis)
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Long
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Difficult

The U.S. military developed this activity, which focuses on the different ways processes and systems can fail. To try the technique, use this FMEA template. 

Download FMEA Template - Microsoft Excel 

First, have the team brainstorm process pieces that need improvement. Then, for each, think about ways the process can go wrong, the impact of those failures, potential causes, severity, priority, and actions to address the issue.

Activity Name: Repeat/Avoid
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Divide the board in half, and label the two sides Repeat and Avoid. Then, ask the group to think of work, processes, and norms that the team should continue or repeat, and those that it should avoid and eliminate. Discuss and identify follow-up actions. 

Activity Name: Drop, Keep, Add, Improve (DAKI)
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Draw four quadrants on the whiteboard, and label them as Drop, Add, Keep, and Improve. Ask participants to think back on the sprint and write on sticky notes any practices, processes, and attitudes that belong in each quadrant. Discuss the responses and develop follow-up actions.

Activity Name: Big Wins
Objective or Stage: Review 
Group Size: 4+
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Index cards
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Give each participant two index cards. Have each person write their name on the first card, and collect these. On the second card, have the participants write their “big win” of the recent work or sprint and conceal the card.

Distribute the name cards so that no one gets their own. Everyone writes what they think the “big win” was for the person whose name they receive. Go around the room and have everyone present their guesses. The named person reveals the right answer to see if they match. 

This activity provides good discussion material whether answers match or not. When they do, talk about how the guesser knew about the person’s sense of achievement and the role of empathy on teams. For mismatches, discuss communication and building awareness.

Activity Name: Problems and Actions
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy, medium

Have participants write down any problems they see in the team’s processes (one issue per sticky note). Put these issues on the whiteboard in a column named Problems. Title another column next to it Actions, and ask participants to note down any solutions or actions that could address the problem.

Set a time limit for the exercise (usually 25 to 30 minutes). Then, prioritize action items for implementation. 

Activity Name: Rose, Bud, and Thorn
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Divide the board into three sections titled Rose, Thorn, and Bud. Ask team members to write highlights and success factors in the Rose space. Challenges go under Thorn, and the Bud section covers opportunities for growth and improvement. 

Go through the responses together. Recognize the roses, discuss ways to make the most of buds, and seek solutions to thorns. 

Activity Name: Genie in a Bottle
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

Begin by asking participants to name positive developments and dimensions of the work period. You can prompt them with questions such as: What worked well? What did you like? What were you proud of? What did someone else do that made a positive impact? 

Have the group record their thoughts on sticky notes and post them. Review them together. This lays the groundwork for the next part of the activity.

Next, tell the group to imagine they find a magic bottle. They open the bottle and a genie materializes, who grants each team member three wishes: one for themselves, one for the team, and one for the world. 

Let the team think for 10 minutes, then write their three wishes on sticky notes with a bit of explanation. Group similar items together on the board. Tell participants to vote on the wishes they want to discuss. Discuss the wishes that received the most votes. Ask the group what, if anything, the team is already doing to help realize the wishes. In addition, ask them to brainstorm what else the team could do to support the wishes.

Determine action items that the team can implement in the next sprint. 

Activity Name: WRAP
Objective or Stage: Review, brainstorm
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Draw four quadrants on the whiteboard. Label these Wishes (desired changes and outcomes), Risks (threats to project success), Appreciations (recognizing helpful people and contributions), and Puzzles (questions about the work). Have participants reflect on the sprint and jot down practices, processes, and attitudes that belong in each quadrant. Discuss the responses and develop follow-up actions.

Activity Name: Sharks and Chimps
Objective or Stage: Review
Group Size: 5+
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: None 
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

Ask participants to nominate teammates as “sharks” for effective action and cool efficiency during the sprint. Each nominator details the ways in which the proposed shark contributed. From the nominations, everyone votes on a winner. You can award a prize, such as a toy shark the winner gets to display for the next sprint. The activity promotes an appreciation habit.

Then, have participants nominate themselves as “chimps” for mistakes or stumbles during the sprint. They explain what went wrong and what they learned. The team votes for the best chimp story, and the winner gets a small prize. The benefit of the activity is to make people more comfortable talking about failure and the ways a team can learn from it.

Voting, Filters, and Games to Prioritize: Activities Near the End of Retrospectives

Retrospective ideas and formats often seek to generate fresh insights and improvement actions. As the meeting nears the end, teams may face an abundance of suggestions. At this point, you need to filter the possibilities to make an action plan.  

The following games and activities offer interesting ways to narrow down a list of suggestions to a handful for implementation. 

Activity Name: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
Objective or Stage: Prioritize
Group Size: 5+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: None 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

To find out which ideas have the most support, use thumb voting. People give thumbs up for yes, thumbs down for no, and thumbs sideways for neutral.

Activity Name: Fist of Five
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: 3+
Time: Short
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation Easy, medium

This prioritization exercise gets a more nuanced reading from a group than the traditional raising of hands. To take a vote on an idea, tell participants you will count down from three. On one, they should show a number of fingers based on the following:

  • One Finger: Strong no or disagreement
  • Two Fingers: Disagreement or reservations
  • Three Fingers: Neutral 
  • Four Fingers: Agreement or support
  • Five Fingers: Enthusiastic yes or agreement

You can ask those showing one or two fingers to share their concerns with the group. Participants can explore if there is any way to change the idea or proposal to win over the one- and two-finger individuals. 

You do not need unanimity or an absence of ones or twos to move forward. The advantages of Fist of Five is that without a lot of discussion, everyone’s voice is “heard.” The method is quick to learn and creates greater engagement. 

Activity Name: SMARTify
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

This activity helps teams determine what to do based on the findings of the retrospective. Once the team has identified potential follow-up steps, use the following process to make them more actionable. Choose a suggestion and note the following:

  • Specific: What is the action exactly?
  • Measurable: How will we know it has been done?
  • Assignable: Who will do it?
  • Realistic: What results are realistic?
  • Time-bound: When will we complete this?

Apply this to all the suggestions. If the questions cannot be answered or the answers are vague or overly ambitious, put the suggestion aside for further consideration at the next retrospective. 

Activity Name: 20/20 Vision
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

After a team has brainstormed steps and solutions to improve the work process, it can be hard to know which are most important. 

In this activity, pick one suggestion at random written on a sticky note. Select another idea at random and compare the two. Which is likely to have a bigger impact or be more meaningful? Stick that one higher on the whiteboard than the other. 

Then, choose another sticky note, and rank that idea above or below the ones that are already on the board. When you go through all the ideas, you will have a prioritized list of action items. 

Activity Name: Trade-Offs
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: 4+
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Difficult

Create a table with five columns, and number them one to five, with one being the most flexible and five the least flexible. 

To the side, list the project priorities, constraints, or trade-offs, such as time, cost, scope, user experience, and aesthetics. Give each participant a different-colored sticky note. Have individuals put their name and one project priority on a sticky note, repeating for all the priorities.

Then each person must put one of their sticky notes per column, essentially ranking priorities from most flexible to least flexible. This shows where they think sacrifices could or could not be made. Discuss where agreements and disagreements show up and ask participants to share their reasoning. If consensus emerges, move the sticky notes accordingly.

Tradeoffs Illustration

 

Activity Name: Useful x Feasible 
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: 4+
Time: Medium, long
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

When a team has to decide from many possible action steps, this activity filters out the most valuable. Draw on the whiteboard a vertical axis labeled Feasible and a horizontal axis labeled Useful

Using potential actions on sticky notes generated by another game, participants put the sticky notes on the board in relation to feasibility and usefulness. 

After the group has gone through all the suggestions, the high-priority items — those that are the most feasible and the most useful — will be in the upper-right side of the graph. 

Activity Name: Effort x Value
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

After another activity has resulted in potential actions, use this tool to identify the steps to tackle first. On the whiteboard, draw a vertical axis labeled Effort and a horizontal axis labeled Value.

Ask participants to put the sticky notes with the potential actions on the graph, basing the placement on a combination of how much effort the step would require along with how much value it would bring. 

When the group has handled all the potential actions, the high-priority items — those that require low effort and offer high value — will be in the lower-right side of the graph. Designate the highest-ranked steps for implementation.  

Activity Name: Plus Minus Voting
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Sticky notes, whiteboard, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Each participant gets three plus votes (agree and want to discuss) and three minus votes (disagree and don’t want to discuss). Everyone notes their votes on the suggestion cards. The suggestion cards are the sticky notes or other places where potential improvement ideas have been noted in the brainstorming phase of the retrospective. Use the results to rank the ideas and come up with an action plan.

Activity Name: Most Likes and Dislikes
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw a horizontal line labeled Minus at the left end, Zero in the middle, and Plus at the right end. Using sticky notes from plus/minus voting, tally the votes, and offset the pluses and minuses. Then, put the sticky on the line according to the score. Pick the highest-scoring suggestions. 

Activity Name: Dot Voting
Objective or Stage: Prioritization
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Circular stickers
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Give participants all the same number of dot stickers, and tell them to put their stickers on the suggestions they like the best. They can divide the stickers however they want, including putting all votes on one suggestion. The ideas that get the most stickers move forward for action.

Activity Name: Filtering
Objective or Stage: Prioritization 
Group Size: Any
Time: Medium
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Medium, difficult

After the group has brainstormed ideas, ask participants to agree on four filters, such as ease of implementation, cost, time, and innovativeness.

Go through the list of suggestions and evaluate each one on the basis of the four filters. Circle any that meet all four criteria, and target those for action. If none meet all four, discuss whether the team could modify any of the ideas to meet the criteria.

Closing Activities and Games for the End of Retrospectives

Retrospective ideas for Agile teams include closing and check-out activities, which — while often brief — perform an important function. These activities set the team up to implement the solutions identified, head into the next sprint positive and energized, and trust one another. 

Activity Name: ROTI (Return on Time Invested)
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: None
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

At the end of the meeting, ask participants to rate the meeting on the value they got relative to the time invested. One is the lowest rating, and five is the highest. Average the result and track this to see if your retrospectives improve over time.

Activity Name: Who, What, When
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw three columns on the whiteboard titled Who, What, and When. Take the follow-up actions identified in a previous activity and write each of them on the board, as a row on the table. Based on participant feedback, record who will own or carry out the activity, when it will reach completion, and individual steps that are part of the action. 

This clarifies and solidifies the next steps for follow-up and increases accountability. 

Activity Name: ROI
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

This activity helps build a culture of strong retrospectives and shows the facilitator what is and isn’t working. At the end of the meeting, ask participants to consider what they felt was the return on their investment of time into the retrospective. Everyone should jot a few words of feedback on a sticky note.

Draw an ROI barometer on the whiteboard. This can be a vertical line or a line sloping up to the right. Explain that the high end represents strong value received for time invested. The low end symbolizes time wasted. Participants then place their sticky notes with feedback on the board where their personal ROI rating falls.  

Activity Name: Fun Photo
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Camera or smartphone with a camera
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Gather the group for a photo at the end of the meeting. Encourage people to be silly and make the picture memorable (with kooky hats, goofy facial expressions, and other antics, for example). Share the photo with the team afterward. Create a collection of retro photos in the workspace or in an online area. This ends the meeting on a lighthearted note and strengthens team bonds.

Activity Name: One Word
Objective or Stage: Closing 
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Paper or sticky notes, pens
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

As the retrospective comes to a close, ask each person to summarize in one word how they are feeling at the end of the meeting. Gather the words, and if participants want to explain why they chose a word or what it represents to them

Activity Name: Note to Self
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Paper and pen
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

At the end of the retrospective, ask participants to think about the meeting and write a short note to themselves about something they want to take away. This could be a reflection, a reminder, or an insight. Suggest participants put the notes somewhere they will see them in their daily lives.

Activity Name: Action Item Grid
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Spreadsheet or table
Ease of Facilitation: Medium

At the end of the meeting, refresh your table of action items with new tasks. Tasks go in the first column. The next columns are for date created, owner, due date, and status. Update the information for existing tasks, and add it for new items. 

Activity Name: Card Feedback
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Colored cards or slips of paper
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

At the end of the retrospective, place a box by the door with stacks of yellow, red, and green cards next to it. Ask participants to drop a card in the box as they leave, corresponding to their feedback on the meeting. (Green means great, yellow stands for OK, and red represents the meeting was bad.)

The facilitator should not hover by the door, so people can feel free to be candid. This is a simple way for the Scrum master to get feedback and continue improving the meeting.

Activity Name: Token of Appreciation 
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: None 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

The group sits in a circle, and an individual expresses appreciation for a teammate and explains the reasons. That person then extends gratitude to another participant. Continue as long as you wish. You can even pass chocolates or other treats along with thanks. This is a morale booster and helps to end the retrospective on a high note.

Activity Name: Rank the Retro
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Number a vertical line on the whiteboard from one at the bottom to 10 (a perfect score) at the top. Direct group members to put a sticky note next to the rating they would give the meeting. 

Activity Name: Kudo Cards
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short, medium
Materials Needed: Index cards or specially designed cards
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

At the end of the retrospective, give the group a few minutes to write a note of appreciation for a colleague. You can use plain index cards, or you can print the free download below. Hang the notes on the wall so everyone can see them, and leave them up until the next retro. 

Kudo Cards Printables Mockup

Download Kudo Cards - Adobe PDF 

Activity Name: Retro Dart
Objective or Stage: Closing
Group Size: Any
Time: Short
Materials Needed: Whiteboard, sticky notes 
Ease of Facilitation: Easy

Draw several bulls-eyes on the whiteboard. Next to each write a statement about the retrospective, such as the following:

  • We talked about the most important issues.
  • I shared my honest thoughts.
  • I believe our work will improve as a result of the retrospective.

Ask participants to place a sticky note to show how close to a bulls-eye the retrospective approached on the basis of the statement. Putting the sticky note at the very center symbolizes that the meeting was 100 percent on target, and outside the circle means completely off target.

The Benefit of Trying New Ideas for a Retrospective

Retrospectives lend themselves to endless variety. The benefits of trying new ideas include making your meetings more engaging and effective. Even if you have activities that you like to use every time, experiment for part of the retrospective. 

Varying the games and activities is essential advice for retrospective facilitators.

Trying new ideas can offer the following benefits to your retrospectives:

  • Spark creativity among participants.
  • Reinforce core concepts. 
  • Enhance engagement.
  • Encourage team bonding.
  • Improve collaboration.
  • Increase trust.
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Catch problems early.
  • Make learning and insights actionable.
  • Benchmark progress.
  • Depersonalize conflict.

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