Retrospective Technique: Appreciation Post Cards

Scrum Master/Coach gets to be a Post Master for a day …

In an earlier post, I wrote about how teams can focus on the positive by devoting an entire retrospective to playing the “Appreciation Game.”

Borrowing from another retrospective technique that I have occasionally employed, where team members write post cards to each other, it occurred to me that a fun (and very fast) mashup of the Appreciate Game with post cards is what I describe below, which I’m calling “Appreciation Post Cards.”

How it works

As the facilitator, set up the activity as follows:

Ask each team member to silently write a post card to any other member of the team, thanking them for something that they did. They can write as many post cards as they like, and they can address them either to individuals or to multiple people.

  • For collocated teams, hand out note cards and writing instruments, and ask each person to: Write the name(s) of the post card recipient on one side; write a thank you note on the other side; (and optionally) add visuals like an image of a postage stamp or a post card image, if they are so inclined
  • For distributed teams, for anyone who is remote, ask them to write down the same information on any media that they choose, and to send it to you, as an attachment (e.g., a digital picture)

Facilitation Suggestion — Play the Post Master

When I facilitated this activity, I acted as a Post Master, where:

  • I asked everyone who was physically present to hand me their post cards
  • I asked everyone who was not physically present to send me a digital version of their post cards, which I wrote out on their behalf as paper post cards
  • I kept the post cards until the end of the retrospective, and either: delivered them as we were wrapping up (for collocated teams); or delivered them soon after the retrospective was over (for distributed teams). The reason for the delay for the distributed teams was I needed time to write out the post cards I received from team members who were remote, or conversely to digitize physical post cards that I could send to remote team members.

I found that hanging onto the post cards until the end (or soon after) created a sense of anticipation among the team members, where they had something fun to look forward to. Keeping the cards to the end added a second benefit of making it easier to keep the identities of the post card writers anonymous, or at the very least, making a more interesting and fun guessing game for the various team members.

Try it and let me know what you think, or what interesting variations on it that you come up with!