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  • Writer's pictureArantza Meneses

Retrospective techniques for Scrum Masters and Agile Teams

Retrospectives in a sprint are an opportunity to reflect on the activities performed during the last sprint and develop a continuous improvement plan that can be implemented in the next sprint.

Sometimes retrospectives become burdensome and there is some resistance from the team to participate. It is important to make retrospectives a safe channel for open communication characterized by respect, empathy, and openness to new points of view.

There are several techniques that facilitate communication, help the team to gather their opinions, and make the retrospective a more effective ceremony. Here we list some of the most creative techniques to get the most out of your team.

Problems and actions

This is one of the easiest techniques for a retrospective, it is very useful to identify the problems and find the solution quickly. It is handy when you need to talk openly about existing problems between team members. It is a simple method, but it is very effective.

The dynamic is simple:

  • Everyone in the team writes on post-its the problems they faced during the sprint, solved and unsolved.

  • We stick to each problem separately.

  • Then each team member writes down a solution they can think of for each problem.

  • Finally, we discuss the solutions raised by the team and create an action plan for the unresolved problems to start the next sprint.

Hot Air Balloon

Metaphors and images are great for stimulating creativity, opening the team's eyes to new ideas, and generally making meetings more fun. This technique is used when you want to focus on problems that exist in the product you are developing, as it helps us to define the areas that are driving the development process.

This technique works as follows:

First, draw a hot air balloon, or you can find templates on the Metro Retro platform where you will find many other techniques, and identify:

The hot air that drives the balloon: What are the things that are driving us forward?

Sandbags: What is encouraging or stopping us?

Blue Skies: What positive things do we see coming up?

Clouds: What are the obstacles or problems we are going to encounter?

KALM (Keep, Add, Less, More)

KALM (Keep, Add, Less, More) is one of the simplest tools to identify which practices are most valuable to the team. It is up to the team to determine which practices to stop, which to continue, and which they would like to add.

Keep: Practices that the team is doing well and the value is recognized.

Less: Those practices that are being done but would like to do less.

More: Practices that are already being done but would add more value if done more.

Add: New ideas or practices that you have seen work and would like to add to the next sprint.

Likes, dislikes, new ideas, and acknowledgments

This technique serves to identify what the team likes, and what they dislike and also serves to generate new ideas. The most important thing about this technique is that it offers the team a space in which they can recognize the effort between team members, creating a more positive atmosphere and a better relationship.

The idea is to create new ideas to solve the things we don't like or to enhance the things we do like. It can be used well in remote teams.

Pleasure and Gain

This technique is great for talking about how things at work affect each team member and how much value they are adding to the team. It can also be used in remote teams.

The dynamic is as follows:

  • Draw a table with 4 quadrants, at the top, is pleasure, on the right side gain, at the bottom pain, and on the left loss.

  • Participants will have to write down each of the activities they do in the project.

  • Then, they will have to position them on the table according to the following questions: Do you feel pleasure or annoyance when doing this activity? How much value is added or lost by doing these things?

The goal is for all activities to be in the "magic quadrant" between pleasure and gain. Discuss things that can be done so that all or most activities are in the magic quadrant.

With these techniques, your team retrospectives will become effective and fun. What techniques do you use most often in your retrospectives? Do you know any of these? Let us know in the comments and tell us how they have worked for you.

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