We share simple and effective ways to run fun and easy agile retrospectives and the benefits they deliver. From choosing the right retro template and setting the stage to non-cheesy ice breakers and handy tips for remote or in-person meetings. It’s all about running a retro your team will love.

What is a fun retrospective anyway?

Running a fun retrospective doesn’t mean you have to hold it on a rollercoaster. They don’t need the Scrum Master to be a stand up comedian, nor do they need to trigger howls of laughter from the team. A fun retrospective is simply one that the team enjoys and finds rewarding.

Importantly, fun retrospectives are safe and inclusive. This is simply because it is a lot easier to enjoy an experience when fear is absent and everyone can join in.

Here’s how you can run a fun retrospective and avoid those boring, repetitive meetings.

Sprint retrospective ideas

1. Reset and reframe your retros

When you step into the room, switch on a smile along with the lights. The mindset you pick for the retrospective will set the mood for the meeting.

If you’ve chosen a particular theme for the retro, dress the room, your background, or yourself to make a statement. If you’re using an online tool that includes a welcome message, sneak in a reference to fun. Turn up your own energy and model your sense of fun which will pave the way for others.

2. Vary your retrospective formats

There are all sorts of themes and templates to choose from. From movies, food, hobbies and interests; if you can think of it, there’s probably a theme and template to match. If you’re more DC than Marvel, you can always change the template to what you want. Here are some of the fun retro templates our teams have used –

Superhero retrospective

Discover your team’s super powers and weaknesses, along with evil nemeses and sidekicks. It’s all in the name of working together to overcome the villainous challenges that may attempt to undermine your next sprint goal!

Goldilocks retrospective

Finally we have a reason we were told some many strange stories as a kid. It was so, when we grew up, we could use them to run retros!

The Goldilocks retrospective is a fun way to help a team find how the team feels about the current state of play. By picking a topic, e.g. Deployment, you can then gauge which parts of the process are too hot (firefighting, running too fast, causing burn out), too cold (laggy, slow and lacking energy) or just right.

Oscar Academy

Celebrating wins is fun, so is this retrospective. It focuses on the positives and celebrates those that helped make them happen.
Use this at the end of an epic or major release to acknowledge your best actors, key moments and celebrate as a team.

Keen to try a different retrospective template?
Check out this nifty site that helps you choose the best template for your next retrospective or explore more retro formats.

3. Run a ‘non-corny’ icebreaker for team building

An icebreaker is a great way to start a retrospective. Starting with a fun icebreaker is a great way to have fun. Don’t worry, even if the laughter gets loud, it will still count as work.

Some of our favorite fun icebreakers include –

  • What piece of office equipment would you grab during a zombie apocalypse?
  • What is the most unusual kitchen utensil you have?
  • What would you do if you won the lottery?
  • Which supervillain do you most respect and why?
  • If you could go to a mythical place for your next holiday, where would it be?

For more fun icebreakers, check out our icebreaker tool.

4. Get feedback from the team

At the end of the meeting, ask the team for feedback and if they enjoyed the retro. Ask a quick check out question, “like what did you think about today’s retro?”.

A simple survey like a Return on Time invested lets the team score the retro out of 5 to indicate how they went will also let you know if they found the meeting fun and productive.

Adding a ROTI (Return on Time Invested) at the end of the retrospective is a handy way to get quick feedback.

5. Switch Scrum Master roles

If your team has always had a dedicated Scrum Master, taking turns as to who runs the retrospective next is a great way of keeping things fresh. It’s also an easy way of increasing the team’s understanding of the role of the Scrum Master and seeing different styles of facilitation in action.

6. Introduce fun retrospective games

An agile game is a fun, interactive activity that dives into an aspect of agile. The whole team works towards a common goal with their agile understandings helping to achieve it. They are a safe way of exploring agile that can be fun both and informative.

Check out our list of agile games you could try at the start of your next retro.

7. Turn up the fun in your remote retros

There are lots of ways to connect teams, even if they are miles apart. You can

  • Turn on the camera, and turn up the smiles. Smiles have a way of spreading when seen.
  • Use filters and backgrounds that match your meeting theme.
  • Get someone to be the DJ to play music during the meeting.
  • Run a funny virtual icebreaker to get things started.

8. Get creative with in-person retrospectives

Injecting fun into an in-person retrospective can start with the location. After all, meeting rooms tend not to be the most inspiring of places. Move to a different room, hold the retrospective outside or even head to a cafe. If moving to another location is off the table, pop some food on the table!

Being in the same place means physical icebreakers can be used. Try kicking off with musical chairs, a knock out tournament of ‘rock, paper, scissors’, or a human knot.

Park the post-its and use a digital tool instead. Your team will be able to use all the features they include that help build psychological safety as well as emojis and GIFs.

Should I make my retrospectives fun?

If you’re still not sure if you should add a little fun to your team’s retrospective, here are some final points (along with the research) to consider.

Fun and safety work hand in hand. Fun gently nurtures psychological safety by supporting team connectedness. Together they are able to help smooth over ripples of change such as transitioning from remote to hybrid or even in person models.

Ready to make your retro fun?

Head over to our blog and check out 3 Nifty Ways to Keep Your Retros Fun and Exciting!