The World Cup Retrospective

With the Soccer World Cup getting into full swing, my current team talk of little else. We have a sweepstake going and I have Poland. The winner will receive £100. Given the level of excitement the team has for the World Cup I decided to tap into that for their retrospective last week. The format worked really well, and the team loved the competition element. If your team is football crazy, try it out with them too.

I’ve talked before about using Esther Derby’s five stage model for retrospectives. This article assumes that you’re familiar with that format.

Set the Stage – Simple Opener

As the theme is to be the World Cup, I wanted to use this moment to get the team thinking about their own personal achievements in the last sprint. I used an open / close question aimed to make them think about and highlight to the rest of the team what successes each one of them has had.

“Please share one thing you did well in the last iteration with the team”

Don’t forget to name the person who is going to answer first and the turn order of the group before you ask the question.

Gather Data – World Cup Group Stage

Give each participant a record card and a Sharpie. Ask everyone in silence to list three teams within the organisation under the following headings:

  • The team I love to play against (work with) most
  • The team I dread playing against (working with) most
  • The team I wish was in our group so I could play against (a team they don’t get to work with as much as they’d like to)

I gave the team ten minutes to do this, but they finished much quicker. Once everyone has done, ask them to read out their cards.

Generate Insights – Into the Quarter-Finals

For the next stage ask the team to get into pairs. I nearly always assign the pairings rather than letting people pair up with the person they sit next to, as this encourages people to mix with those who are not their first preference. Give each pair four stickie notes, and ask them to come up with two appreciations and two ideas. Each pair should only consider their interactions with the teams that they’ve already written about from the previous stage. We don’t want them to come out with lots of things at this stage, so by limiting their output to four stickies in total we’re getting each pair to start the convergence process.

Once the team is ready, ask each pair to read out their appreciation tickets only. Next, ask everyone to stand up and create a vertical line of their idea tickets. Ask them not to place their tickets next to each other. No matter how many pairs you have in the team, you will have an even amount of tickets.

Decide What to Do – Fight for the Semi-Finals

This is where the competition starts to heat up. Go down the row of tickets and ask the pairs that created the first and second to give a brief explanation of their ticket. The rest of the team should be listening as they get to vote afterwards. Once both pairs have spoken, ask the team to point in the direction of the pair they think should go through. Move the winning ticket into a new vertical column to the right.

Repeat the above process for each pair of tickets on the way down your column, and then repeat in the next vertical column until you get to one winning action. I asked different questions for each column we went through. I started with asking the pairs to explain their tickets, then to explain why their competitor’s ticket shouldn’t go through, then why theirs deserves to win the final. Feel free to play with it, and let me know in the comments below which questions you had success with.

Close the Retro – Appreciation Cards

Given that I had pushed the team through some competition, I wanted to bring them back to thinking positively of each other and as a whole. In my Box o’Tricks I have some Thank You post cards that I picked up at a stationery store last year. You don’t need to buy these though, as the Management 3.0 team have a printable that you could use instead. I put a pile of these cards on the table and let everyone write as many as they wanted, as long as they were to other members on the team. I collected all of the post cards, and during the next sprint I will hand them out randomly to keep the love flowing.

I hope that your teams find this as fun and useful as mine did. It would be great to hear from you about your experiences with this format. Did it work well? Did the team like a sense of competition in their retro? Comment below!

London, UK

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