Ridiculously Useful Power Retro: The Artsy retro.

10 Aug 2018 - Brigitte Maenhout

A creative and focused retro, for mature teams - maximum size: 7 (storming and norming) - take a look at our impressive and remarkable gallery below!

Let's face it, retro's can get a bit stale. So it's good to jazz it up once in a while. So if you are feeling adventurous, you might want to try an Artsy retro.

I would recommend this retro for teams that have known each other a while, not for newly formed teams, unless you know that the individuals won't feel judged.

The concept is that you ask the team to draw an art work that is a visual representation of the previous sprint of what happened, how did feel, etc. They can be as creative as they want, it can be in any style that they want (realism, abstract, comic book, etc.)

Because you are talking to the creative side of their brain, it is easier for the team to remember what happened in the previous sprint and to freely express their thoughts. It also distances the emotions and allows the information to surface without holding back. Another advantage is that is gets the team members to focus on the highest priority elements. With the traditional, what went well and what didn't, sometimes you end up with a massive list filled with complaints, venting, jokes, ... and it can be good to get that out, but it can be very helpful to do a more focused retro where the topics are narrowed down from the start.

In addition, it helps with team building because there will be funny drawings, skilled drawings, original drawings. It keeps it light but focused and it gives you an additional insight into your team members.

Once everyone is finished drawing (timebox it to 10 minutes), everyone gets a chance to present their artwork and explain what it represents. The other team members can ask questions. Make sure you pay attention to the details, those usually hold very interesting and valuable information, not always, but it's good to explore!

Here are a few examples inspired by previous retro's I've done, the artwork isn't the real artwork but is used to provide a clear illustration. Enjoy our gallery:

While you discuss the art work, you start creating the common topics and put the post it notes on the board in order of priority (the more common themes get moved to the top). The scrum master can do this, or you can agree as a team that you all help with identifying the themes and writing it on post it notes.

Once the themes are visible, you can get the team to switch to solution mode. Because the brain is in creative mode, it will be easier to get the team to focus on solutions to problems and discover actions.

This format is best suited for teams with a maximum of 7 members because it can take a bit of time to go through the art work, so make sure you have that time.

This can also be done for distributed teams, just let people know in advance to have pen and paper handy. Get the members to hold up the art work in front of the camera or take a picture and post it in the Slack or Hipchat or any other team communication tool.

We would love to hear about your experiences with this artsy retro. As always, feel free to post pictures of the art work here to share with our community!

Have fun!