Speed Dating – Agile Retrospective Style

by Jessica Long

Around the time that the Agile Manifesto materialized, another fast paced and sleeker model of partnering and collaboration was popularizing – speed dating! It only seemed fitting that the two could somehow co-exist, even if just in a playful and platonic manner. This is a fun twist for teammates that have established a good connection but might need a break from the more traditional retrospective ceremony.

What you can expect to get out of this exercise

While you may encounter a lot of baffled looks upon introducing this exercise, you can rest assured that the end result will liven the room and afford heightened relationships. The activity is unique in the sense that teammates will have an opportunity to discuss their thoughts one on one.

How to do it

Setting up the venue – 5 minutes

Before the group enters the space, place sets of chairs facing one another throughout the room. Explain the rules to your team and have them divide into two groups. Group A will remain stationary. Group B will rotate clockwise upon hearing the buzzer or bell. Each individual within both groups should be given a card that contains their name.

Speed Dating  – 5 minutes per pair

Assuming you have 10 teammates, there will be 5 rotations in total. Each encounter should be time boxed to 5 minutes. This gives each teammate the chance to voice their thoughts around the iteration and have open dialogue around opinions they may share or even differences of opinion. As the host, it is your responsibility to sound a buzzer at each 5 minute interval so that Group B can rotate to the next pairing and begin their discussion promptly.

 Speed Dating Retrospective – 5 minutes

By now, the rotation has completed and each member of Group A has had a conversation with each member of Group B. Instruct each teammate to write the name of someone in the opposite group whom they felt either the most in sync with in regards to their iteration thoughts, or someone that shared something of great value. Once you collect the cards, you will take a few moments to hopefully find a few that match.

Speed Dating Results – 15 minutes

Invite the matches up to the front of the room and congratulate them for recognizing and appreciating one another’s opinions. Have each one of them take a moment to explain something that stuck out around their conversation.

Speed Dating “Duds” / Wrap up – 15 minutes

While not everyone may have established a “match”, we know there was still a lot of great dialogue. This is an opportunity for people to talk about meaningful conversation points that they shared during the last hour. Encourage your teammates to share points that were discussed by others vs. those that they initiated themselves.

About Jessica

Jessica Long has driven multiple Agile Transformations within several large financial institutions. Her love of coaching has enabled her to be a servant leader to many teams and provide individual direction to each of the specific roles that make up a successful Agile alliance. While she values each ceremony that goes along with an iteration, she embraces the sprint retrospective most of all.

If you have questions related to this article, please feel free to contact Jessica on Twitter @ScrumAndGinger

Picture credits go to: Stuarts


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