Retrospective Gamification: Retrospective from a Hat

Philip Rogers
Aug 24, 2017 · 5 min read

Note: this retrospective technique introduces fun into retrospectives via gamification. For an example of another retrospective technique employing gamification, see Retrospective Gamification: Choose Five.

Preparation

Before facilitating a retrospective from a hat, complete the following preparatory steps:

Come up with a list of at least five to ten things that could potentially be covered during a retrospective. By “things,” I mean any one of the following:

  • retrospective exercises (ideally any exercise you decide to include should be one the team has tried before, so you don’t have to provide a lengthy explanation of it if it is drawn from the “hat”). For examples of retrospective exercises, see the Retromat, and also my public Trello board, which provides a broad sample of retrospective techniques, some of which I designed, some from Retromat, and some from other sources).

Write the things on note cards or slips of paper

Make sure you have a container to put the note cards/slips of paper in (if you have an actual hat to use, great, but any container will do )

Facilitation

To facilitate the retrospective, do the following:

  • Describe what the “things” are that you have put in the hat (or other container)

Question Bank

Below is a list of questions you can potentially choose from, along with the source where they originated, as applicable.

Some of my favorite questions/topics:

  • If we were to describe the Sprint that ended with one word, what would the word be?

Ben Linders’ questions:

  • What did we do well, that if we don’t discuss we might forget?

David Mole’s Questions:

  • How do you feel overall about the project so far? (scale of 1–10)

Diana Larsen’s questions:

setting the stage

  • Ask “In a word or two, how are each of you doing today?”

gathering data

  • Probe for facts/significant events by asking questions like these: “As you think back over this iteration, what events or instances stand out? What did you see and hear that sticks in your memory?”

generate insights

  • Based on the conversation up until now, ask “What would you recommend we keep doing the same, do more of, do less of, start doing, or stop doing altogether?”

decide what to do

  • Keeping in mind the relative importance/impact of the various things that have been identified, ask: “Which of them do we have the most passion/energy to take as an action or experiment during the next iteration?”

close the retrospective

  • “Who owns each action item?” “How will we know when it’s complete?”

Note: The inspiration for this retrospective approach was Bill Wake’s Tests from a Hat (which is a creative way to write unit tests, btw ; ). He in turn got the idea from Improv, where a technique called “Scenes from a Hat” is sometimes used.

innovative agile techniques and practices

As an alternative to drawing a box and saying "everything…

Philip Rogers

Written by

I love to work with teams to help them improve. Most of my recent experiences are with teams using Lean/Agile approaches (variations on Scrum, Kanban, XP).

innovative agile techniques and practices

As an alternative to drawing a box and saying "everything inside is Agile," this collection is for anyone who is looking for techniques that inject spontaneity and fun, and encourage open sharing of perspectives.

Philip Rogers

Written by

I love to work with teams to help them improve. Most of my recent experiences are with teams using Lean/Agile approaches (variations on Scrum, Kanban, XP).

innovative agile techniques and practices

As an alternative to drawing a box and saying "everything inside is Agile," this collection is for anyone who is looking for techniques that inject spontaneity and fun, and encourage open sharing of perspectives.

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