Purpose of the exercise: Get to know each other better (Building trust). 

Time required: From one (1) hour to one and a half (1.5) hours maximum.

 Pre-requisites: Post-its, markers, a table, storytelling cards[1] or some pictures printed from internet, a facilitator.

Preparation: 10 – 30 minutes to print out the required material and setup the room. Spread cards on the table; write the name of each participant and stick it on a specific place on one of the walls of the room. Create/reuse the weather report on a flip chart.

How many participants: Minimum three, maximum to be determined.

Recommended: This activity is recommended to be done with new teams, or when new team members join an existing team.

Iteration Retrospective proposed agenda

  • Set the stage – Weather report[2] from the book Agile retrospectives: making good teams great[3]
  • Gather data – Let’s share a Personal Story
  • Generate insights – Learning and possibilities
  • Decide what to do – Take action
  • Close retrospective – Evaluate the Team’s performance satisfaction template[4] during the iteration retrospective.

Instructions

  1. Set the stage – Weather report (10 minutes)

Welcome participants to the iteration retrospective and once everyone is in, present your proposed agenda, previously created. Once you have finished, ask the following question “Is there any other subject that you would prefer to discuss instead?” And wait for answers. If somebody proposes a topic, ask the team what they want to do? And follow whatever they want. If the team chooses your proposed agenda then go to the next step. If they don’t, then skip this exercise and facilitate the ‘new’ conversation without any regrets.

  • Invite them to do a weather check[5], and then share, individually, how they feel. I like to use post-its and ask each team member to write down their name and include their weather check with it.
  • Be curious and ask them “Who is willing to share the reasons behind your choice of the weather check report? Be silent and wait at least 30 seconds before saying anything. Remember it is their meeting, so be patient and wait. Let them talk, listening to all the answers. Once each person has finished sharing, be sure to thank them.

2. Let’s share a Personal Story (20 to 30 minutes)

Explain that most of the team effort during the forming stage is going to be focused on building the relationship of trust. Given that, we are going to play “Personal Stories”. Here are the steps for this activity:

  • Spread storytelling cards[6] on the table. Make each one visible to be chosen.
  • Ask participants to think about a personal story, something that nobody in the team knows about them.
  • Invite participants to pick at least three (3) cards from the table and then build their personal story from them.
  • Invite participants to go to the pre-selected area in the room with their name on it and then stick their cards to the wall to share their personal story. Give the team three (3) minutes to build their personal story.

Special note: I like to participate in this activity, in order to share my own personal story with the team to help build the relationship of trust too, but that is optional.

  • Ask who wants to share their personal story first. Then ask who is next? Repeat this step until everyone has shared their personal story.
  • Invite the team to discuss what we have learned about our colleagues? In the meantime, take notes about what the team has told you they learned.

3. Learning and possibilities (20 minutes)

Explore together the following question: what do you think is possible when we trust each other? Give the team one (1) minute to think and then invite them to share their thoughts in pairs and list at least two possibilities, one per post-it. Give the team three (3) minutes to do that.

  • Ask the team to stick the possibilities they created on the wall and then to choose the team’s favorite one; give them three votes per person. They can use the votes in any way they want.

4. Take action (20 minutes)

Invite them reflect in pairs about the following question: what action could the team do to make that possibility become a reality, starting next iteration? Give them three (3) to five (5) minutes. Each group should suggest at least one action item to share.

  • Invite each group to stick their actions on the wall. Help the team to group them into categories. Ask each group to stick their actions on the wall.
    1. Help the team to group them in categories.
    2. Invite the team to decide what to do for the next iteration, who is responsible and when will the action item be completed.

5. Close retrospective – Team’s performance satisfaction template (5 minutes)

Close retrospective by thanking them for their active participation and invite them to evaluate their level of the team’s performance satisfaction during the retrospective using the Team’s performance satisfaction template[7].

Expected outcome

  • The team gets to know team members from another perspective.
  • Make people vulnerable by sharing personal stories with their colleagues.
  • Teach the team that being vulnerable in front of others can be fun and highly interesting.
  • Create possibilities and new connections between team members.
  • Build the relationship of trust within the team.
  • Have fun.

Willing to get more techniques for transforming your teams into high-performing sustainable Agile teams?

Here some options to help you out:

  1. Get your copy of my worbook “Forming Agile Teams” now.
  2. Register in my upcoming working “Coaching teams during iteration/sprint planning“.

References

Exercise extracted from the workbook Forming Agile Teams, www.jesusmendez.ca/books/forming_agile_teams

[1] Management 3.0, Story telling cards, https://management30.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Improv-Cards-Letter-CJA-v1.00.pdf

[2] Plan for Retrospectives, “Weather report”, http://www.plans-for-retrospectives.com/?id=2

[3] Esther Derby, Agile retrospectives: making good teams great, http://www.amazon.com/Agile-Retrospectives-Making-Teams-Great/dp/0977616649/

[4] Jesus Mendez, Team’s performance satisfaction template, http://www.jesusmendez.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Jesuss-Team’s-Performance-Satisfaction-Template-V2.1.pdf

[5]Plan for Retrospectives, “Weather check”, http://www.plans-for-retrospectives.com/?id=2

[6] Management 3.0, “Story telling cards”, https://management30.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Improv-Cards-Letter-CJA-v1.00.pdf

[7] Jesus Mendez, “Team’s performance satisfaction template”, http://www.jesusmendez.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Jesuss-Team’s-Performance-Satisfaction-Template-V2.1.pdf