Retrospective can get boring over time

In the beginning, starting with a new team or starting with Scrum at all, retrospectives are really interesting and you have a lot of energy in this meeting. 

As with most things – the same style for the retrospectives every sprint leads to more and more boring meetings. In my opinion this leads to less creativity in the meeting and less intensive inspection and adaption.

You’ll find not that many points to improve and what went well repeats or you don’t find new things at all.

Do you really have THE perfect working environment? There are no things to improve and all things work well? Congratulations – I would like to get to know your environment 😉

It’s an important task for the Scrum Master to find ways to have energy in the retrospective. Following you’ll find a list of variations I used in retrospectives over time.

Variations for the retrospective

Change the moderation methods

Based on my blog post suggestions for the restrospective 
  • Vary using card walls and the floor for collecting input (if you vary it between retrospectives it’s an easy way to change something)
  • Do dot voting with pens or with sticky dots
  • Include the whole team in the retrospective activities – shared moderation
    • a team member can control the meeting time slots
    • all cluster topics
  • Use sticky notes instead of moderation cards and use your walls for sticking it

Do special things

Use post cards as an opener

  • Collect different post cards from all over the world with different pictures
  • Let every team member choose one card that (s)he can connect in any way with the last sprint at the beginning of the Remember what happend session
  • When collecting the input from the last sprint – ask everyone to say some sentences why this post card was choosen.

Combining the picture from the card and collecting input from last sprint widens the scope and leads to new context elements provided by your brain. It’s an new experience and can give a lot of fun to team members.

Topic retrospectives

Build trust
Use the prime directive for retrospectives to foster an open atmosphere and environment for learning.

Based on the book  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) I did the suggested survey and started with building trust in the beginning. 

  • Every team member was asked to contibute with some more details from his childhood.
    • Where born and raised? – Nice to use Google maps during the meeting.
    • Most challenging thing?
    • Biggest mistake?
    • First job?
This way you can change the teams perspective. They see each other in a different way.

Show the importance of team work

Enlarge the scope


Do you have more ideas how to energize retrospectives?

Follow up section

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series)
A smart and nice to read book about a team – it starts as a bunch of people leading a company that is already on its dead march and ends with a highly productive team in the same but highly successful company. Throughout the fable the 5 dysfunctions are uncovered and described.  
(Check out my book notes)
Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers

The book Gamestorming describes various nice games and why playing games is helpful to find new ideas and increase energy
The Retrospective Handbook: A guide for agile teams A nice up to date edition as the next extension step for retrospectives. It adds the scope of distributed retrospectives and structures retrospective facilitation even more
Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (Pragmatic Programmers) I would say – the standard book about retrospectives. A must read for every retrospective facilitator. (check my book notes)