by Luis Goncalves
“Car Brand” exercise is a great way to start an effective retrospective. This exercise is taken out of the book “Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives” by Luis Goncalves and Ben Linders. Feel free to download the book for free in LeanPub.com or InfoQ.com.
One of the most important parts of a successful retrospective is an “opener”. Facilitator must set a stage so that a team feels comfortable to speak in front of others about any topic. That´s where the “Car Brand” exercise might help.
What you can expect to get out of this exercise
It´s a great exercise to allow team members to show their feelings on how the sprint went. They can show feelings without a need to express their opinion openly. When team members are new to each other, maybe they hesitate to talk openly, that´s why this is an excellent exercise to use at this situation.
When you would use this exercise
As explained above, the exercise should be used at the beginning to set the stage for teams to start the retrospective. This is a great exercise to reveal individuals´ opinion, allowing everyone to have a common understanding about what others think.
How to do it
At the beginning of a retrospectives make sure everyone feels comfortable, after that ask them a simple question: “If you think about this sprint as a brand of a car, which car would you choose?”. For example, I choose a Ferrari or a Maserati if the sprint went very well. If the sprint had several ups and downs, I would choose a Fiat or a Skoda. Give a team 2-3 minutes to think what is their brand.
Afterwards, ask every team member to reveal “their car”. Let them either draw it on a flipchart or write it on a post-it. At this point, do not ask them to justify their choices. Allow team members to see everyone else´s choice. This will create an overall feeling on where the team stands. After this, ask them to think about their dream car and give them 10 minutes to think about what they would change in the past sprint in order to have their “dream car”.
Normally, teams come up with many different ideas, but those ideas are usually with common patterns/problems. Ask the team to use dot votes to select the most critical/important problem that the team will tackle in next sprint.
This exercise is using a car brand, but you can use anything that you´d like or it makes sense to you. The team does not need to be collocated to run this exercise. Even distributed teams can run this exercise using various virtual tools. You can download the list of 21 tools for distributed agile retrospectives here.
Picture credits go to: Axion 23
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