Retrospectives are necessary for a successful agile process. Unfortunately, though, they can sometimes be dry and dull (mostly due to their highly technical nature).
One way to make retrospective questions more fun and engaging is to add an icebreaker section at the beginning of the meeting. Icebreakers can help everyone shift into a more open frame of mind when discussing what went well and what might be improved during the sprint.
How to Keep Things Light During Retrospective Meetings
It's a good rule of thumb to keep your retrospective meetings as light as possible. But how can you accomplish that without trivializing the issues that need to be addressed? Let's take a look at ways you can keep things efficient and enjoyable.
1. Use Fun Retro Questions
Retrospective meetings can often be tense, and agile team members can find themselves working hard to avoid upsetting each other or pointing fingers.
By asking retrospective questions that promote conversation, you can keep the session light and enjoyable. This will help everyone feel more comfortable sharing. In addition, you may learn something new about your teammates.
Some fun retrospective questions you can ask include the following:
- What season would you be today based on the mood you're in?
- In a movie about your life, which star would you like to see play you?
- Which would you prefer: a week spent in Italy or a staycation at home?
- Tell us about something that changed in your hometown in the past decade.
- When you started your job, what was something you didn't know about the company?
- If you had $1M, but weren't allowed to spend a penny on yourself, what would you do with it?
- If you had dinner with any fictional character, who would it be?
- What type of music would you choose if your mood today was a musical genre?
- Which team member would you choose as Robin if you were Batman?
- Which drink would you choose to live without for the rest of your life, coffee or tea?
- What is your go-to song among all the songs you can sing at karaoke?
- Which movie marathon would you prefer: A Star Wars marathon or a Lord of the Rings marathon?
- What animal would you say best represents you today?
- Which emoji best describes the mood you're in today?
- What caption would you use for this GIF? (share GIF in chat)
2. Play Games
Games are another great way to keep things light during retrospectives. They help break down barriers and encourage open discussion between participants.
Many games can be played during retrospective meetings, such as Two Truths and a Lie, Would You Rather, or the Newlywed Game. These conversational games will break up the monotony and make the engagement more fun.
3. Have Team Members Vote on Their Favorite Jokes From the Previous Sprint
Jokes are a great way to get everyone laughing and loosening up. You can either have everyone bring their favorite jokes from the previous sprint or vote on a few favorites. Jokes don’t have to be funny – they just need to be light-hearted and help everyone relax.
This can also be a fun way to reminisce about some lighter moments from the past few weeks.
4. Take a Break Midway Through the Retrospective to Do an Activity
Take a break if the retrospective is dragging on and people are starting to lose focus. A break can be as simple as having everyone stand up and stretch for a few minutes or doing a quick activity together like yoga, meditation, or stretching exercises.
Taking a break and switching it up can help refresh everyone’s minds and make them more receptive to new ideas later on.
5. End the Retrospective With Something Light-Hearted
Ending a meeting with something light-hearted like awarding prizes for the funniest bug report or best team prank is an excellent idea. Gestures like this leave everyone feeling good about the process and encourage them to participate in future retrospectives.
Useful Tips for Adding Fun Retrospective Questions
Adding fun retro questions can be challenging if you aren’t sure where to start. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Make Sure Everyone Is Comfortable
Before getting started, make sure everyone is comfortable and has enough space to move around. This means that the questions should be appropriate for the audience and shouldn't cause anyone to feel uncomfortable.
You may want to avoid personal questions or those that could lead to conflict. This will help keep the energy level high throughout the session.
2. Start With a Simple Question
To get things going, start with a simple question that doesn't require too much thought or analysis. For example, "What was your favorite part of the sprint?" A question like this helps team members relax and get into the groove.
3. Be Creative!
Retrospectives can be boring if they're all business all the time. Try mixing it up with some creative questions that will get people thinking outside the box.
If you always use the same questions, people will get bored. Be creative and come up with some questions that stimulate new discussion. You can also modify existing questions to make them more interesting.
4. Keep It Lighthearted
The goal is to have some fun, so try to keep the questions lighthearted. They should be something that people can answer without feeling too serious about it. Jokes are a great way to add levity to the discussion.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the tone lighthearted and positive. No one wants to feel like they're being grilled during a retrospective meeting!
5. Encourage Participation From Everyone
If you want everyone to contribute to the retro, encourage participation from everyone involved - even if they don't think they have anything valuable to add. This can be done by using questions that are relevant to everyone, regardless of their role on the team.
For example, “What was your favorite part of the sprint?” or “What challenges did you face during the sprint?”
The Goals of Using Retrospective Questions
The goal of using retrospective questions is to get the team thinking about their past work and brainstorming improvements for the future. Therefore, the questions should be fun and engaging, and relevant to the project.
Some questions might be more personal in nature, while others might be more concerned with processes or operations. Mixing things up can create a comfortable space for sharing and help keep the tone lighthearted and uplifting while also encouraging participation from everyone involved.
Fun retro questions can help lighten the mood, break the ice and encourage team members to be more open and candid during a retrospective.
By getting everyone involved in answering questions about their experience during the sprint, you can surface issues and ideas for improvement that may not otherwise have been discussed. Doing this can help to make the retrospective more productive and informative, as well as enjoyable overall.