It’s not easy. It’s not easy to find interactive, fun and value-adding retrospective methods for remote teams.
Get out of the everyday life
As a Scrum Master and psychologist, I love retrospective ideas that force team members to leave their everyday (job) life. Exercises that let them see things from a different perspective.
Therefore I tried to summarize 4 fun retrospective ideas for remote teams. The 4 ideas are somewhat different, somewhat unusual. But they work in a remote context.
Before we go any deeper, a quick note. Soon we will hold a free webinar on “how to increase agile transformation success dramatically through retros” – with 11 international experts as our guests! You can find more information on this in the teaser video below.
Fun retrospective ideas for remote teams 1: Skribbl
The following retrospective method is probably particularly suitable as a fun, interactive check-in. A check-in that prepares for the rest of the retrospective regarding “mindset”. Most of you will know the fun game.
But probably not remote yet. “Scribbl” is about guessing what others are drawing. That means someone on the team gets a term – for example “sprint”. He is the only one (possibly besides the Scrum Master) who knows the term. And now he has to draw it as good as possible – for example “Sprint”. But the rest of the team does not know what he is drawing. And must guess on the basis of the drawing what is the term. This often creates a few creative ideas. And laughs, of course! This is how you have to proceed:
- Visit Skribbl.io.
- Create a private room. You can do this in the screenshot below.
The private room means that only you and your team are in it privately and no other online player can join.
Don’t forget to fill in your name and choose the right language.
- Next, you’ll be in the lobby. Here you can set the number of rounds, the language and the amount of time to draw – see screenshot.
And probably most importantly: You can also enter the own terms to be drawn! So that this fun retrospective idea for remote teams really is about your last sprint…
For example, you could have the words “Sprint”, “Customer”, “Daily”, “Product” or even “John” (as a team member) drawn. Depending on where you want to get the team in the mood for the rest of the remote retrospective.
You have to enter the terms in the field below and tick the box below.
It is important that you arrange the terms (as described in the field below) with commas, enter at least four terms and the words have a maximum of 30 characters.
- Next, it’s time for you to share your space with the other team members. To do this, you need to copy the link to your room at the bottom of the screen (see last screenshot below).
Then you can send it to the other team members. If in doubt, you can simply click on the orange “Copy” at the bottom of the screen.
- Optionally, you can test the tool for yourself: Use the incognito mode of your browser (just open “new incognito tab” or “new private window” in the Chrome browser or similar) to share the link with yourself and have at least two or more players. Only when you have two players in the room, you can start the game.
- Now you can get started. The game decides randomly who goes first. In the upper left hand corner the time is running. Team members should draw the term they see above as fast as possible.
When the other team members have guessed the term and there is still time left, the next term can be drawn. For each guessed term the team receives one more point.
Here you can see my unfortunate attempt to draw “Sprint”. Mh, I never was a good drawer…
- By the way, before you start playing the game for the first time, I recommend that you share your screen to the team and explain the game. The team members should all have a brief look at the remote screen and understand the basic idea of the game and the tool.
You can also point out the different colours and pen sizes. And that you can always write comments on the right – which is a lot of fun. Last but not least, it’s probably good to know that even letters of the searched term are automatically revealed above over time, in case the term is not guessed.
- Depending on how much time you have, you can change the game a little. Either everyone draws at least one term. Or you have only prepared 5 terms and if they are guessed correctly, the game is over.
And that was basically it. At best, the game will produce a few laughs. And maybe you discover that someone on the team has a secret talent for drawing.
By the way, it’s not easy to draw with the tool if you don’t have a touch screen. So I recommend using simple terms. Team members should have a quick sense of achievement at the beginning of a “fun remote retrospective” 🙂
Last notes and psychological background
Theoretically, for this game you could also arrange the team into two sub-teams that compete against each other. But for doing so, you would need to be able to split the screens so that two teams get two different screens each. This is not possible with every remote video tool.
The nice thing about this game, by the way, from a psychological point of view, is that it has the same effect as the Draw Toast exercise: the mental models of the team members of different things – product, sprint, customer – are automatically presented and thus aligned with each other.
For example, you might notice that a team member tends to associate something negative with “customer” because he has chosen the color red in his drawing. You can find more about this in my blog post about this retrospective method.
Sorry to interrupt, but one other thing: are you currently scaling agile methods in your company? Because then this could be interesting to you – after interviewing dozens of experts on this topic, we are currently developing a free online training on that topic.
The video below gives you an impression of our training – you will love it. Feel free to leave your email below so we can let you know once we finished the training.
Fun retrospective ideas for remote teams 2: Who am I
The second fun retrospective ideas for remote teams is not quite as dependent on technology. A classic: Who am I.
If you don’t know the game, here is the basic idea: Everyone in the team gets a different character, a different name. But you don’t know who you are yourself. While the others in the team all know who you are.
The goal is to find out who you are through questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no”.
This game is also probably best used as a check-in to get in the mood for the rest of the remote retrospective in a fun and interactive way.
The background and process
The nice thing about this fun retrospective idea is that you have to put yourself in other people’s shoes. That you have to take a different perspective. And just like in the exercise before, you have to get to know the different mental models of the other team members.
You can proceed as follows.
- For each team member you write down a (possibly fictitious) person – but everyone in the team should know this person. For example, you could write down “Donald Trump”, “David Hasselhoff”, “Mogli”, “Aladdin”, “Justin Bieber” – or the name of your CEO.
If possible, you can and should relate the whole thing to your team and your sprint.
In this respect, you can also transform the game and simply make a character change. Everybody in the team just gets the name of another team member!
My recommendation would be both: A few names of team members, and a few celebrities. So it’s not so easy to guess who you are.
- Normally, every team member would now stick the name of the person you represent on their head. Without seeing who that person is, of course.
Unfortunately, this becomes difficult in remote context, so now it becomes a bit more challenging.
You have to hold the name of each team member in the camera. But each time you do so, the person himself is not allowed to watch.
At that moment, every team member has to write down which characters the other people in the team are.
- The foundation is now laid. Everyone is a character he or she doesn’t know.
Who starts? The person in the top right-hand corner of the video chat. And then it goes clockwise.
- Everyone asks a question about himself. If the question is answered with “Yes”, you may ask another question about yourself – hopefully to get closer and closer.
For instance, you’re Mowgli:
“Am I human?” – Yes.
“Am I a man or am I a woman?” – must not be answered because there is no yes/no question.
“Am I a man?” – Yes.
“Am I from Europe?” – It’s not that simple. No.
And it’s the next persons turn…
- Depending on your time management, you could play the game until everyone has guessed their character. Or you could play until the first one has guessed correctly – or just play for 10 minutes.
And that’s it. A few laughs are guaranteed in this game!
As you can imagine, you can’t play this game with a too big team. From my experience I would play it with a maximum of 8 people.
Fun retrospective ideas for remote teams 3: Retro Tools
This will probably be the shortest chapter, but it should not be missing: To have fun retrospective ideas in remote teams, as you probably know, there are many online tools that were developed for this purpose.
But I can most likely recommend a different tool, and I can do so with conviction – and “bias”: I myself was involved in the development of this tool.
Focus on psychology
I’m talking about Echometer. The focus of Echometer is on targeted team development from a psychological perspective.
Echometer makes the team reflect on the right things (check out how it works here). And at the same time it helps to make the development of the team more measurable.
It is currently free of charge in the basic version. The only annoying thing is: you have to provide them with some data to start a free trial of Echometer. But trust me – it is worth it!
If you are still unsure, you can see Echometer in comparison to other retro tools right here.
|Criteria||Echometer||Retrium||Team Retro||Fun Retro||Parabol|
|Interactive online retrospectives||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Automatic summary of past retros||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Guidance for Moderation (Check-In Generator etc.)||✅||✅||⚠️ Partly||❌||⚠️ Partly|
|Team-Templates for every maturity level||✅||⚠️ Partly||⚠️ Partly||❌||❌|
|Continuous action item tracking (retro to retro)||✅||⚠️ Partly||⚠️ Partly||❌||✅|
|Measurability of team development over time||✅||⚠️ Partly||✅||❌||❌|
|Asynchronous feedback gathering before retro||✅||❌||❌||❌||✅|
|Organizational KPIs for Health Check||✅||❌||❌||❌||❌|
|Item-Pool with psychological nudges||✅||❌||❌||❌||❌|
|Data Protection (developed and hosted in Europe)||✅||❌||❌||❌||❌|
Fun retrospective ideas for remote teams 4: The Johari Window
The fourth fun retrospective idea for remote teams has a slightly different focus. It is less suitable as a check-in than as an explicit team development workshop.
The method is focused on the targeted development of individual team members. And indeed, it works particularly well even remotely – if you use the appropriate tool.
The exercise focuses on uncovering blind spots in team members.
The psychological background
90% of people think that they have above-average car driving skills (Svenson, 1981). And 90% of professors consider themselves to be above average researchers (Cross, 1977).
Do you understand? 90%! That is quite unlikely. It seems as if we are not so aware of ourselves – or as if we have many blind spots.
But at the same time it makes sense that the more aware we are of our own strengths, weaknesses and trigger points, the better we can work in a team.
Well then, let’s make sure that you get to know yourself better.
The psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham (1955) have developed a beautiful method for this – the Johari Window. I will explain it to you.
The Remote Procedure
- First, you explain the background of the exercise. For example, you can give the facts I just mentioned. Additionally, this graphic comes into play now.
The psychologists have developed a graph with four areas. For example, what do I know about myself that others also know about me (Arena; see graph)?
The workshop should now help to compare the common perceptions of the team regarding individual team members. To make possible blind spots – both strengths and weaknesses – more visible.
- To get started, it is best to always focus on one team member. Let’s say, for example, first we focus on Christina.
First, Christina clicks on the following link: https://kevan.org/johari
- Now, Christina fills out the Johari window for herself. The instructions can be found on the website: Choose 6 terms that best describe you.
It could look like this, for example. Don’t ask me why they designed this tool that way…
By the way, it would also be conceivable that everyone in the team fills it out in parallel. But then it could get a bit more complicated in the next step.
- Because next, you have to choose a unique name below. The classic names, for example Christian, are usually already taken. So you can also think of a code here, but you should save it somewhere for a short time.
- Next it is the turn of the others to leave their perceptions on Christina. To do this, Christina copies the link at the bottom of the next screen and sends it to all the other team members. The screen looks something like this.
- After the others have selected the attributes for Christina as well, you can see the results by clicking on the link below.
- When the results are available: Christina can now share what she expected to find in the “Arena” field.
- Then Christina tells us what surprised her. She perceives herself as “Happy”, but no one else? Interesting. Maybe she has a perception in her head as to why she perceives herself that way.
Now this perception can be compared with that of the other team members – let discussions flow!
- After that, you will come to the next exciting part: What are Blind Spots? Which of the attributes are new for Christina?
- The other team members should always explain what they have chosen and why. And in the best case, name situations that explain their choices.
Here you can ask and discuss many more questions. But these would probably be the most important ones.
Of course, the most important thing is to pay attention to the feelings of the participants. And everyone should obviously voluntarily participate.
When you are done with Christina, the other team members will gradually take their turn.
In case of doubt, if you don’t have enough time, you could take another person every two weeks at the beginning of a retrospective. That way it remains exciting and everyone is given the same amount of time.
It is not easy to find fun retrospective ideas for remote teams. With the four very different approaches – from playful to psychologically based – I hopefully met your taste.
You are interested in 12 more retrospective ideas based on psychology? In a scientifically proven formula on how to grow your team above and beyond anything you have seen so far?
Then you have to take a look into the free eBook I wrote as psychologist. You are only 3 seconds away from it – download it right here 🙂