Diving Into the Movie Critic Retrospective

Alex Vernik
Alex Vernik
Engineering Ops Specialist
Posted on
Nov 1, 2021
Updated on
Nov 29, 2022
Table of Content

The Movie Critic Retrospective format is just begging for some popcorn and craft supplies; two things sure to get the juices flowing and inspire a change of perspective. 

What Is the Movie Critic Retrospective Format?

Sometimes using metaphor and elaborate themes to disguise harsh truths as playful movie critiques is just what the scrum doctor ordered. It can be daunting to express dissatisfaction with your colleagues’ lack of execution, or the shortcomings of superiors. But, illustrating those honest thoughts in the form of art is not only more subtle, but sometimes even more effective for expressing these feelings! 

The Movie Critic Retrospective format encourages teams to focus in on very abstract thoughts and feelings, while also turning straightforward thoughts into abstract art - with a side of role play. 

It involves imagining the most recent iteration/sprint as a movie and creating the poster for it (how it went) and for the sequel (how it should go), as well as a full compartmentalization of its traits in the form of a critique. 

Incorporating gameplay into mundane business procedures is a fantastic way to reflect while having fun. If you’re interested to learn more, check out this list of fun retrospective games.

When Can This Agile Strategy be Used? 

The Movie Critic Retrospective, like other retro formats, including the spider web retrospective and the speed dating retro we covered in our blog lately,  should be representative of a sprint/iteration that's just finished recently so that feedback is still thoroughly accessible. 

It will explore actionable tasks for future endeavors that will ideally be applied soon after.

How to Run the Movie Critic Retrospective 

To get the most out of this retrospective, split the session into three 'acts.’ These acts are called: the Posters, the Critique, and the Sequel: Pre-Production.

The Posters

For a good reference point in which to start, ask all members to gather around some craft supplies (and some popcorn mmm!) and create a movie poster that represents the last project. This is quite literally just a request of "if the last iteration was a movie poster, what would it look like?".

Take turns discussing what each person's collective poster elements represent and why these were poignant events/feelings for them. Make notes of positive and negative feedback of the iteration/sprint process under review.

The Critique

Each member will now fill out a 'movie review' of the previous project. They'll try to categorize the essence of the experience. The critique should resemble this:

  • What was the genre?
  • What was the general theme? 
  • What was a major plot development?
  • Was there an enemy/conflict (thing, not teammate!)
  • Was the ending expected or a twist? 
  • What was your character development/redemption arch? 
  • What was your personal highlight?
  • What was the moral of the story?
  • What would you rate it (1-10)?

You get the idea. 

This is a really fun way to look at the big picture and summarize the key points in the process, good and bad. Continue to record positive and negative notes, while noticing emerging patterns. 

The Sequel: Pre-Production

Keeping within the cinematic-thematics, discuss these patterns as 'production issues' that were encountered in the 'filming' of the first project, and vote on a few improvements for the 'sequel'. 

Have everyone make posters (think vision boards but nuanced) and actionable tasks regarding The Sequel (next Iteration).

Who Is This Type of Retrospective For?

The Movie Critic Retrospective shouldn't proceed without the attendance and participation of everyone who was involved in the previous project that's under review. Every team member's 'critique' and experience is hugely relevant and necessary to get the whole "motion" picture. 

Other 'supporting roles' could include Scrum Masters, facilitators, business partners, critics (ironically), testers, and audience members (customers). 

What Makes This Retrospective Special?

This sprint retrospective idea is great for diluting the frankness of direct criticism and making it more palatable. It's also a great exercise for the brain to stretch beyond its usual analytics and to gain new perspectives, possibly leading to new useful feedback. 

This super creative and fun retrospective, is great at highlighting the hot button issues in the usual Sprint processes. It tends to be more big-picture than super specific, but is great nonetheless.

How GoRetro Can Help

FLAP retrospective is an excellent way to help your team learn and grow together as it provides a structured format for reflection and brainstorming. You can combine this with a retrospective tool like GoRetro to efficiently run your retrospectives with ease. With these tools, your team can collaborate and work their way to more productive and successful Sprints!

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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