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How To Choose The Retrospective Format Right For You and Your Dev Team

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jun 25, 2020
Updated on
Nov 29, 2021
Table of Content

As you’ve seen in many of our previous articles, there are many different Agile Retrospective meeting formats. Here, we’ll look at a few different cases where specific retrospective formats perfectly fit the nuances of different, individualistic dev teams. 

Retrospectives by Team Size

You might not realize it, but a lot of your dev team’s needs are directly tied to the size of your team. The challenges faced and strategies used to move forward for big teams versus smaller teams are incredibly different. Below, we’ll show you some of the best retrospective formats, tailored to the size of your team, and then a few other cases where specific team retrospectives will perfectly align with the character of your team!

Retrospective Types For Big Teams

Emoticons Sprint Retrospective Activity

The Emoticons Sprint Retrospective Activity is the perfect retro for larger development teams. To complete this retrospective, the group will collectively choose four different emoticons. Then, the facilitator will take these emoticons and come up with four simple questions that relate to them. After that, the team will answer and discuss the questions as they relate to the previous sprint. 

Speed Dating Sprint Retrospective

The Speed Dating Sprint Retrospective is another great retro for larger dev teams as it pushes all of your team members to engage with one another for a brief period, allowing each team member to hear everyone else’s specific feedback. To start, create two equally sized groups and name them Group A and Group B. Then, pair the two teams up and give them 10 minutes to discuss your first topic. After time has expired, Group B will shift one place so each individual has a new partner, and the team will take another ten minutes to discuss their next topic. 

Retrospective Types For Small Teams (H3)

Lean Coffee Sprint Retrospective

The Lean Coffee Sprint Retrospective format is very successful in many circumstances, as it gives the team the opportunity to have an open-ended conversation that is entirely directed by the team themselves. It keeps them involved and interested, as well as creates an open forum for everyone to share. This team retrospective format also ensures that the only topics discussed are those that are important to the team as a collective.

Iteration Sprint Retrospective

The iteration retrospective is a very reflective format to use with your team. By looking back on the previous iteration completed, your team is able to really focus on two things: qualitative reviews, and quantitative reviews. These two reviews help the big picture become clearer and make it easy for your team to reflect on its present goals and techniques. With a small team, this retrospective works even better, as each member in the discussion will have a larger share of the time to explain themselves. 

Retrospectives For Teams That Love Games

If your team finds itself getting distracted and goofing off easily, then these are the retrospective formats for you. Besides, who doesn’t love to blow off a little steam and play some team retrospective games every now and again! 

Constellation Retrospective Format

The Constellation Retrospective format forces teams to move around and express their feelings, making it the perfect retrospective for a team that loves to play games! Similar to the Spider Web Retrospective format, the team will create a radar graph by moving in or away from an object in the center of the room based on whether they agree or disagree with a sentiment expressed by the facilitator. 

Superhero Retrospective Format

The Superhero Retrospective Format will allow your teammates to feel like kids again as they work to create imaginary superheroes that represent the special collective skills of your dev team. By completing this activity, you’ll kick off your retrospective meetings right, and maybe even raise team morale in the process! 

Diamond or Charcoal Retrospective Game

The Diamond or Charcoal Retrospective game is a great way to start a meeting, and allow your teammates to play a game before getting to the nitty gritty. This simple activity asks team members to mark on a chart how they felt about the previous sprint on the scale of charcoal to diamond, and then discuss the results of the poll.

Retrospectives For Teams That Love Pop Culture

If your coworkers are anything like mine, you’re going to want to give these retrospectives a try. This set of retros is the perfect companion for a developer colleague who loves music, movies, and TV. 

Harry Potter Retrospective Format

The Harry Potter Retrospective format allows teams to use The Boy Who Lived to explore their thoughts and feelings about the previous iteration. By using different spells as metaphors for the team’s desires, developers will get to enjoy the meeting while still working to create an effective plan for the coming iteration.

Movie Critic Retrospective Format

The Movie Critic Retrospective Format helps teams by using movie metaphors and arts and crafts to gently discuss team struggles or hard truths about the previous iteration. Teams will split their retrospective meeting into three different “acts” and set to analyzing what went well in the prior sprint, what went poorly, and how they can ensure the next iteration goes even better. 

Oscar Academy Awards Retro Format

The Oscar Academy Awards agile retrospective is exactly what it sounds like. Team members are nominated for different awards such as communication, leadership, etc. Also, stories are nominated and voted on for best story, worst story, etc. This is a good way to motivate the team to keep doing a great job.

Non-Verbal Team Retrospectives

Maybe you’re dealing with a language barrier between specific members of your team, or maybe you’ve just got some shy team members. Not to worry! These team retrospectives work wonders to allow non-verbal teams to communicate and gain insights into their  development process. 

Remote Sprint Retrospective

The Remote Sprint Retrospective is an excellent retrospective for teams who work from different places, hence its name: the Remote retrospective. If you and your team work remotely, or if you’ve got a number of team members who have trouble expressing themselves in a public forum, then this is the format for you. It will accommodate everyone’s locales and comfort levels while still allowing you to get the most of your retrospective meeting! 

Sailboat Sprint Retrospective

The Sailboat Sprint Retrospective format is a great way for your team to look at the big picture and to discuss each of the different aspects that define a project. The Sailboat retro helps them look at what has helped them and what has held them back and, from that, they can make an action plan for going forward into the next sprint.

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Do any of these team retrospective formats sound like something your team could use? Visit the GoRetro website anytime to try all of these retrospective formats– and more. Signup has always been, and will always be free. Sign up today!

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