Spring has sprung.
Flowers are in bloom.
Clocks have been adjusted to reflect Daylight Savings Time.
All of these little indicators point to the undeniable fact that May the Fourth
is just around the corner.
In anticipation of May the Fourth (perhaps better known as "Star Wars Day"), I'd like to recommend that you and your Scrum teams take a break from the standard "What went well," "What didn't go well" retrospectives and infuse some fresh energy and humor into a tried-and-true ceremony by holding a "Star Wars Retrospective."
Why Star Wars?
In my experience, Star Wars seems to be one of those rare universal topics. A topic that all team members are familiar with. No matter how diverse a group of people you might be dealing with (any mix of genders, ages, backgrounds), one thing that they all have in common is, if not a great love for, at least a grudging respect for Star Wars.
By capitalizing on the built-in good will and happy feelings that Star Wars generates, you're bound to have a lively session.
What type of a team is this retro recommended for?
If your group is still in the forming stage, the members shy and only starting to get to know each other, it's certain to break the ice and get conversations flowing.
If your crew has hit a rough spot and retrospectives are met with silence, crossed arms, and heavy sighs, this theme might be the one to unite a fragmented group around a common topic -- even if only for an hour or two.
If you have a highly engaged and performing team, they deserve a little variety and fun.
I challenge you to give this retrospective framework a try with your team. I think you'll be surprised by the grins and the uptick in participation level.
What you'll need:
White board and markers
Post-its (3x3 Super Sticky works best)
Pens (Sharpies . . . of course)
Before the session, pull your favorite quotes from any of the films (the original IV, V, and VI are, of course, the undisputed best) and write them on a whiteboard. Be sure to leave space enough between each quote for team members to stick their related Post-its in.
Prep your mobile device with the theme from Star Wars
and play it as your team members enter the room.
If you're highly motivated, you might want to don that Obi Wan Kenobi robe you wore for Halloween a few years ago (you know you have one!).
When the team walks into the room, ask them each to take a stack of Post-its and a pen.
When all are situated, explain the theme to the group and ask them to write on a Post-it the name of a person, project work, or anything else that occurred during your sprint that relates to one of the quotes on the board.
While all of these are open to interpretation, here are some quotes, examples of how they might be interpreted, possible Post-its, and a snippet of the conversation that each might inspire:
Obi Wan Kenobi:
"That's no moon, it's a space station."
"It's too big to be a space station."
"I have a very bad feeling about this."
The space under this quote might be filled with Post-its that call out a story (or stories) that, on the surface, appeared to be something simple -- business as usual -- but, upon further inspection, turned out to be pure evil.
"This splash page seemed really quick and easy when we looked at it during grooming/planning, but as we started to work, and we realized that there were endless additional subpages expected, it turned into something completely different . . . and evil."
"I've been waiting for you, Obi Wan. We meet again at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the Master."
Believe it or not, this quote provides an opportunity for people to give praise to others on the team for their hard work and acumen.
Dave -- Code refactor
"Dave, I have to admit that, even though I was the one that introduced you to our code base and discussed ways to possibly refactor, your work has surpassed my original ideas and is awesome. Kudos to you."
"The Force is strong with this one."
This quote provides an opportunity for people to compliment each other on their awesomeness.
"Jenna was a rock star this sprint. She unsnarled some really spaghetti-like code and deserves major props!"
"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
This one provides a chance for people to admit they need help, to ask for assistance. Hopefully, one of their teammates will be able and willing to provide that help.
"Guys, I'm completely stuck and really need some advice. I know you're all in the weeds yourself, but if someone would pair with me for a bit this afternoon, I'd greatly appreciate it!"
As always, take a moment to review each post, group them where possible, reflect on ways you can take what you've learned and improve on what you do moving forward, and give credit (and praise) where due.
I imagine some of you reading this might be a bit skeptical. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Hmm . . . it might be fun, and maybe someday I'll give it a try."
To that I respond, "No! Try not! Do or do not. There is no try."
And, as always, May the Fourth be with you