Three Little Pigs Retrospective

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jan 28, 2021
Updated on
Apr 13, 2023
Table of Content

Below is another quick overview of a fun sprint retrospective format, and a full-guide below it, yet it is one of many retrospectives available. Review the various types to find out which retrospective is right for your dev team.

Three Little Pigs Agile Retrospective Overview

This is a fun way to gain insight from your retrospective team. It involves three distinct points: instability, lack of solidity, and what is solid. These meetings use the story of The Three Little Pigs for reference and discuss what is not working so that the team can come up with ideas to make it better. The meeting goes something like this:

●  The Scrum Master will have pictures of 3 houses - the first of straw, the second of wood, and the third of brick (just like in the story).

●  Each team member will fill out post-its with things they think are:

  ○  Unstable - These straw houses are things that the team believes are not working out at all.

  ○  Lack some solidity - What the team thinks is still missing something.

  ○  Solid - Things that are working well for the team.

●  The post-its will be read aloud by the Scrum Master and sorted into the correct houses on the board. Then, they will be discussed by the team.

●  Dot voting can be used to determine the top 3 areas of improvement needed. The team can then discuss ideas that would bring them from unstable to solid.

What are the Three Little Pigs Sprint Retro format uses?

This is a great retrospective to consolidate ideas that will take any unstable parts of the sprint or production and make them solid. It serves to improve upon what needs to be solidified and celebrate things that are solid and working.

When should the Three Little Pigs Sprint Retrospective be used?

This is a good format to be used at any point. It is a great way to wrap up a quarter or to use after a sprint. It is reflective, so it can be used pretty much at anytime.

Three Little Pigs: In-depth Guide

The ‘three little pigs’, you say? As in, those pigs in the nursery rhymes from your childhood? 

What on earth could they possibly have to do with sprint retrospectives, you might be asking.

You'd be totally forgiven if you're even slightly confused! 

But, actually, those three little pigs could teach you a LOT about how to have fun and productive retrospectives! 

Buckle up; things are about to get fable-y. 

Three Little Pigs: A Refresher

Before we get into the ‘what’, let's quickly refresh your minds as to the story. 

As you may recall, the Three Little Pigs is a story about, well, three little pigs. 

Inexplicably, these three pigs live alongside one of their common aggressors - a wolf, who is forever intent on blowing down their houses. 

Each pig chooses to build their house out of different materials: one builds a house of straw; the next builds it out of sticks; and the third builds a house of bricks. 

The wolf succeeds in ‘huffing and puffing’ (blowing hard enough to destroy a somewhat poorly-constructed building) the first two houses, but can't succeed in blowing down the brick-built house (obviously). 

The story is an allegory for preparedness: each of the pigs represent a different approach to readiness and process - and can teach us a LOT about the way we respond to known processes, and our own preparedness in the face of the expected (as well as the unexpected, but that’s a different story for another time). 

Perhaps you see a direct link to your sprint retro already. Perhaps not. Either way...we’ll spell it out for you. 

The Three Little Pigs Retrospective 

Taking a beloved children’s fable and using it to inform and improve your sprint might be a little tricky to connect the dots to. 

However, looking at the fable’s sum of its parts makes it easier to understand how it fits in: 

Your sprint retro is a fact of life. As long as you're running a sprint, we’d hope there’d be a sprint retro (and if you're not in the habit of running sprint retros, then check out our range of fun retrospectives and other Agile retrospective formats to choose from). Splitting retros are a part of the life cycle of your spirits (among other important parts you may or may not be aware of!). 

Just as with the Three Little Pigs, your sprints end with a retro. The pigs’ house building will end with a wolf attempting to blow their houses down. 

Each house represents a different aspect of the sprint process: 

  • The straw house: instability and things that aren’t really working 
  • The stick house: partially lacking in solidity
  • The brick house: things that work well for the sprint and its participants. 
3 little pigs retrospective board
3 Little Pigs Retrospective Template

How to Run a Three Little Pigs Retrospective

This is a fun, engaging way to promote an open, honest and blame-free sprint retrospective, each and every time! Here’s your play-by-play: 

  • We’d recommend starting off with some effective (but not too time-wasting) ice-breakers, before quickly reminding your team of the basics of the Three Little Pigs story. 
  • The best way to run this kind of sprint retro is to make it more visually appealing: print off three images of houses made of straw, sticks, and bricks. 
  • Supply your team with a stack of post-its. Tell them to write down on separate post-its: 
  • Aspects of the sprint they find unstable or not working - get them to stick these on the house made of straw. 
  • Aspects of the sprint that are partially working, but could be improved or reformatted - get them to stick these in the image of the house made of sticks. 
  • Aspects of the spirit that are mostly or fully solid, and working well - get them to tackle these on the house of bricks picture.
  • Read the post-its aloud once everyone is finished. 
  • You and the team should be able to see recurring themes coming up, and whether that's the case or not, you could vote on the top areas needed for improvement.  

The Benefits of Running a Three Little Pigs Sprint

Other than it being a super fun way of getting your team on the same page and having fun, the Three Little Pigs retro has way more benefits! 

You'll enjoy it for the specific focus on the less-stable or functioning area of the sprint, all the while keeping away from any finger-pointing or ill-feeling among the team. 

This is important not just for the wellbeing of the current sprint, but to cultivate and instill a sense of togetherness and harmony for all sprint retro participants for the future too.

3 little pigs retrospective infographic
3 little pigs retrospective infographic

Enjoy Painless, Blameless Sprint Retros Each and Every Time, with GoRetro 

GoRetro is a forever free sprint retrospective tool to help your sprints run quicker, smoother, and pain (and blame-) free!

Already loved and widely used by many happy customers worldwide including ‍Lyft, Adobe, GoDaddy, and more, you’ll wonder how you could have ever lived without it. 

Interested in other retrospective formats?

From "What Went Well" to "Starfish retrospective", "Sailboat retrospective" and more, GoRetro's offers a wide variety of retrospective templates.
Pick up the best sprint retrospective template for your team or create your own retro board using our custom option.

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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