Many team retrospectives never go beyond the same format of asking “What went well?” and “What should we do differently?”, which might be a good start, but it becomes a boring routine after N times repetitions.
As retro facilitators, we could do much better than this – by designing retro formats that would ignite deep thinking, generate insights, find patterns and the root cause of the problems, boost creativity and come up with great ideas – all this to produce tangible improvements from retro to retro. And what is also important – is to bring a gamification element to the retros and increase the energy level of participants, making those events exciting and productive at the same time.
The book “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great” by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen, which has already become a classic, describes 5 Steps Retrospectives Structure and suggests activities for each step. It is highly recommended reading!
The five stages of the retrospective are:
There is also a great resource Retromat which has a lot of activity suggestions for each stage – if you have never been there, you should do it right away! I think I have experimented with every single activity from there or variations of those, and it helped improve my skills of retrospective facilitation a lot. Nowadays, I mostly create the activities myself, but they are based on what I learned before from there – and I still browse Retromat sometimes to get inspiration.