Exploring the Unique Speed Dating Retrospective Format

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Oct 17, 2021
Updated on
Jul 12, 2022
Table of Content

The speed dating retrospective format allows teams made of drastically different personalities to find a level playing field and an equal platform to share post-sprint. It helps prevent meeker team members from being overpowered by more dominant types, and will keep your whole team on the same page, every time!

What Is the Speed Dating Retrospective Format? 

Using the speed dating sprint retrospective template on your retro meeting might evoke a couple of nervous or hesitant giggles, but it's a great way to make sure everyone’s feedback is heard. It consists of rotational one-on-one conversations (just like in speed dating) about pressing issues encountered during the last iteration. 

The issues you wind up discussing could pertain to individual setbacks each individual encountered, tools that other team members found helpful, and anything else that may improve your team’s workflow and productivity over the coming iteration. 

This fun twist is an exciting change from the usual idea / discussion retrospective format, and it involves a bit of gamification. A study by Finances Online found a 60% increase in employee engagement when games are integrated into mundane training/work endeavors.

When Can This Format be Used?

The speed dating retrospective relies on a vivid recall of the iteration, including what went well and what went wrong. For this reason, it’s best to complete the retrospective immediately following a completed iteration or sprint. 

Additionally, try not to let any retrospectives take place too long before a new sprint starts. The feedback and goals you hear from your team during that retro should still be fresh enough to apply to your coming iteration. 

How to Run the Speed Dating Retrospective

The speed dating retrospective begins with solo reflection. Then, either in a physical space or in a virtual platform with private chats like GoRetro, "Players" will write down a topic of particular importance that they'd like to address about the latest iteration, whether that item be a positive or negative. 

Everyone will then be evenly assigned as a Group A member or a Group B member. Group A members will take a seat with a matching Group B member (across from each other). 

Cue the timer. The leader will let each member of the pair speak for 5 minutes about their feedback topic. The other will actively listen and provide advice, solidarity, etc. After 5 minutes, it's the other one's turn to speak. At 10 minutes a timer goes off at which point all Group As remain stationary while Group Bs rotate/move to the chair closest clockwise and begin the process again, until the players have all had a turn with each other. Times may be adjusted depending on the amount of people.

Who Is This Retrospective For?

All retrospectives are reflections of the group as a whole, and must therefore involve the whole team. Every member of the scrum team must be present to not only share their unique contributions, but help their teammates to understand their opinions as to what made the past sprint successful or tedious. Simply put– everyone's voice matters, something particularly prioritized by this specific retrospective format. 

Other people present at the meeting could be the Scrum Master (also in charge of tracking time and managing smooth rotations), business partners, potential customers, and testers. 

Why Is the Speed Dating Retrospective Effective?

This format gives every dating contestant– I mean team member– their 5 minutes in the spotlight, without the pressure of a huge audience. Everyone leaves feeling valued and like they've contributed by unloading their experience for the greater good. 

The speed dating agile retrospective format ensures that no one dominates the conversation, or hides away to keep from contributing. 

This retrospective is great for interpersonal team bonding, as one-on-one conversations tend to be more personable, comfortable, and satisfying. It will create stronger bonds within the team, leading to stronger teamwork and outcomes.  

How to Run a Speed Dating Retrospective in GoRetro

GoRetro is a versatile agile platform, providing free retrospective online, that can help you host a speed dating retrospective, as well as any number of other retro formats! Any number of employees can join the online board forums, and once in the same dashboard with their leader they can pair off into private chats and comment threads to discuss topics. Leaders can then notify their team members when time is up, and new chats can be started.. 

Learn more here about how GoRetro can support the team!

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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