by James Gifford
Two Truths and a Lie is a classically fun activity that I have used many times to ‘break the ice’ at social gatherings or group meetings. In this case, I had a team that was very familiar with each other, but was getting bored with standard retrospective techniques, making the team collaboration stagnant. Racking my brain for new idea, on the spur on the moment I decided to transform this classic ice breaker activity into a new retrospective technique.
What you can expect to get out of this exercise?
By using this retrospective technique, you will have promoted team collaboration to generate a praise report and define actionable retrospective items. The praise report is used by the team to celebrate the successes of the previous sprint, while the action items are used to focus and rally the team around potential team improvement areas.
Who is this exercise for?
This retrospective technique is suitable for all team maturity levels.
Each person will make three statements about the past Sprint – of which, two will be true and one will be a lie. Statements should be related to any likes/dislikes, experiences, skills or habits.
How to do it
Setting up the Game – 10 min
Gather the team members in a circle and explain the rules. Give every team member a pack of post-its and a sharpie so they can capture down their three statements. Time box the team at 7 minutes to organize and capture there statements. After the time is up, each team member will have 3 post-its, each containing a single statement.
Playing Two Truths and a Lie – 3 min (Per person)
Select a team member to present to the group there three statements. After the statements have been presented, the group will discusses the statements and decide which statement they believe is the lie. If the group does not agree on which statement is a lie, have a show-of-hands vote, and select the statement with the majority of the votes. After a statement has been selected, the presenter will then reveal to the group whether they guessed correctly, by indicating which of the statements is a lie. Move on to the team member and continue until everyone has revealed their statements.
Wrap up Discussion – 20 Min
Once everyone has revealed their statements, collect and categorize all the Truths and Lies with a negative connotation. Discuss these collection of statements with the team, identifying what could have been done better to remediate these items. Create a list of actionable solutions for each statement and have the team vote on the top items they want to focus on addressing in the next sprint. Add the remaining actionable items to the retrospective backlog, to be addressed in a future sprint.
Tips and variations
Two Truths and a Lie Strategies
Team members can use different tactics in attempting to hide their lies. For example, three mundane statements or three unusual ones are perhaps hardest to evaluate against each other. Lies are typically harder to identify if the group believes that the player might be telling the truth; people find it harder to believe truths if they don’t feel they can associate them with the player.
Two Truths and a Wish
In this variation, team members still identify 3 statements, two of which are true statements and one statement that is phrased as a wish, rather than a lie. This is a fun alternative to help the team work through their statements, especially if you have a team that is struggling to create lie statements.
I am an Agile and Lean coach, who is passionate about guiding teams and organizations to providing customer value through Agile and Lean techniques. I am continuously working to hone my skills by attending and hosting various coaching retreats, certification classes, and conferences. I am also deeply engaged in the Agile community, actively participating in group discussions and blog postings.
In case you have questions related to the article, feel free to contact James on Twitter @scrummando
Picture credits to: Christopher Holden
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