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Nerds in the Wild: Retrospectives

Nerds In The Wild – Retrospectives

The Far Reach team has spent more than a year and a half becoming a scrummy organization, and we’ve learned a few lessons along the way. In this series, we’ll share what we’ve learned and give you a sneak-peek into a typical day at Far Reach.

True to their inherent nature, our retrospectives are ever-changing.

(Retrospectives are held at the end of every two-week sprint. At the meetings, the scrum team discusses what went well and what to improve in the next sprint.)

We’re constantly looking for ways to make retros more effective for our teams. Good retros help the teams grow and increase velocity—making them more productive and leading to better products for our clients.

Some of our recurring retro activities include:

Sailboat Retro

Sailboat Retro

  • We draw this picture on the white board. Then we give the team a few minutes to write down on Post-it Notes their thoughts about how the sprint went, using the different elements in the image to categorize their thoughts.
    • Boat sail/wind = What/Who served as the wind in your sails to keep you going? (What things went well?)
    • Anchor = What were the problems we faced or the things that drug us down during the last sprint? (What things didn’t go so well?)
    • Iceberg = What items do we see as possible problems for our team in the upcoming sprint/sprints? (What do we need to watch out for?)
    • Sometimes we include an island to talk about a long-term goal or something we want to achieve over a longer period of time. (Where do we want to be?)
  • This retro is one of our good-old standbys. It’s one all teams have done several times.
  • Learn more about the sailboat retrospective.

WWW Retro

  • This retro focuses on three questions: What went well? What didn’t go so well?  What could we do differently? This straightforward retro leaves the imagery out, while still helping the team identify ways to improve the way we work together.
  • Learn more about WWW retros.

Candy Retro

  • For this more light-hearted retro, we find different types of candy to help answer the three basic questions:
    • What went well? Smarties, Milky Way, etc.
    • What didn’t go so well? Sour Patch Kids, Toxic Waste, etc.
    • What should we do differently? We try to find some new/unique kinds of candy for this one.
  • Here’s another fun candy retro.

Glad/Sad/Mad Retro

  • This simple retro focuses more on feelings using three simple questions:
    • What made you glad?
    • What made you sad?
    • What made you mad? 
  • Learn more about the glad/sad/mad retro.

Wedding Retro

  • Think of the old saying that goes with weddings: something old (constructive criticism on something in practice), something new (constructive criticism on some new experiments), something borrowed (pull ideas from other teams/resources), something blue (an area of sadness). We use these guidelines to help us discuss ways to continue to improve in the next sprint.
  • Learn more about the wedding retro.

Inside Out Retro

  • Have you seen the Pixar movie “Inside Out”? We use the characters—Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Joy—to discuss our feelings about the last sprint. This exercise helps us take an objective look back at the sprint and encourages the team to openly share their feelings about how things went.

If your retros feel stale, give some of these a try. If they don’t fit quite right, continue to change them up to help your team grow.

I’ll leave you with some of our favorite retrospective resources. We hope these will prove to be valuable additions to your scrum toolbox.

If you have other retrospective resources you’ve found particularly valuable, we’d love to hear about them.

Happy scrumming!