Draw the Sprint Retrospective Format Draws Attention to Artistry

Alex Vernik
Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist
Posted on
Dec 20, 2021
Updated on
May 1, 2023
Table of Content

The Draw the Sprint Retrospective/warm-up is a visual, creative, fun and productive retrospective exercise. It calls on members to translate the elements of a recalled experience (the past Iteration/Sprint) into a common form (a car, a house, a boat, etc). 

Communicating through symbolism can be incredibly powerful, so this retrospective format takes advantage of the way we all subconsciously interpret the complex concepts around us to develop our worldview. By asking your teammates to undertake some type of artistry, they’ll be more comfortable revealing their true feelings about the previous iteration.

If the Sprint exhausted them, the individual could draw plumes of smoke streaming out of a car's tailpipe, or barren, worn out tires, for example.

The group would then draw their ideal object all together, adding in a number of elements that represent perfection. This will allow you to analyze the contrasts between the team's private drawings, and the ideal group entity. 

When Can This Agile Strategy be Used?

The Draw the Sprint exercise can be used either as a full Retro or as a warm-up at the end of a completed Iteration/Sprint. It's always best to give feedback as soon as possible while the memories and notes are still vivid and clear. 

Ideally, the constructive pointers and new strategies discussed during this activity will be put to use shortly afterward in a new project. 

How to Generally Execute the Draw the Sprint Retrospective Format

The Draw the Sprint Retrospective begins with individual reflection and artwork. To run this retrospective, call upon members to load up on craft supplies and take a seat, finding peace with headphones or quietude. Tell them to use a set object (chosen by the Scrum Leader) to portray their experience of the last project, in creative conceptual detail. 

Using a shared object as a metaphorical vessel (car, pet, house,etc) creates a standardized platform for all members to compare and contrast later on. That being said,  some group leaders may prefer to encourage completely freehand visuals of the Iteration experience, without the use of a common 'messenger image' (car, house, food, etc), which will inevitably remove some nuance/metaphor from the art.

Once the images are complete, take turns having teammates describe their pictures and what each of its elements represent in relation to the past venture. Ensure that no one uses this time to blame other teammates for issues they faced in the previous iteration. 

Have the team gather all together to draw up the ideal car/house/freehand image to represent the perfect Iteration. Have members each explain what each component means and what would have to be different in order for their 'car' to become that perfect 'car', thus creating loose actionable insights on personal change and strategic/group changes. 

Following up with prompts inquiring whether anyone has any opposing views to the ideal image/goals described or if anything has been missed can create an opportunity to further constructive discourse. 

Who Is This Format For?

The Draw the Sprint Agile Retrospective and strategy will be very beneficial to those right-brained, creative types amongst the group. Furthermore, it can be great for those who like to think deeply before speaking or who may struggle with the pressure of being put on the spot. Introverts can enjoy having a crutch to help with communication, such as imagery. 

The exercise should include everyone who took part in the Iteration/Sprint, as each member has something unique and important to contribute. Long story short– you should be able to find a way to ensure that all of your developers enjoy and benefit from this retrospective

What Makes This Retrospective Format Effective?

Encouraging members to convey difficult, and sometimes touchy feedback through an artistic medium can be very helpful. Criticism can be easily buffered with wholesome imagery and through the art of symbology, the art can partially speak for them. Plus it's fun and imaginative!

The Draw Your Sprint Retrospective works wonderfully as a stand-alone Retro format, but you can also use it as a quick warm-up at the beginning of a different retrospective in order to get a dialogue going. It's a great way to get quieter members to ease into the Retro meeting structure, by giving them some time to structure out their thoughts.

How to Run A Draw the Sprint Retrospective In GoRetro 

The Draw the Sprint method works wonderfully physically and remotely. GoRetro is the place to go for virtual collaborative Retrospectives. Once everyone has joined the platform, they can join a dashboard and choose from a variety of Retro templates. Within those they can control/adjust visual and organizational formatting elements. 

In GoRetro, the Draw the Sprint virtual framework would work by having members use their own supplies and draw at home, and then describe online what the elements of their drawings and all contributing features to the final 'perfect' object mean to them. 

Just like with the rest of our retrospective templates, GoRetro’s interface is super user-friendly, and the platform will record all the contents of your retrospective meeting for future reference, erasing the need to take notes.

If this sounds like something that could benefit your team, find out more about GoRetro’s completely free, interactive retrospective software here.

About the author

Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist

Engineering leader, passionate about coding products and value creation. Vast experience with managing R&D teams at various scales. Embracing innovation and transformation for constant improvement.

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