Agile QuickTip: Kick off your Team with a Retrospective

Kick off your Team with a Retrospective

Starting your scrum team off the right way can be the difference between success and failure. Here’s a great idea to set them up for success, by starting by looking back – with a retrospective.

Everyone has their own way of kicking off a scrum team. Some Scrum Masters might set out boundaries or explain communication tools, it really varies. One idea that might really make a difference the next time you start off your team, is to kick it off using a retrospective.

By looking back on individual team member’s experiences on their past scrum teams you can find out a lot about them before you even get started. You also find out what they were happy with in the past, described as the similar things they want to bring forward into their new team and at the same time, some of the things they want to exclude that didn’t work for them previously.

Not only does your team kick off by owning their own formulation process, they actually set the expectation that together, we’re continuously looking for ways to get better. As a process, I’ve found that this really helps level up your team.

I hope you enjoyed that Agile QuickTip, and found it a valuable idea for kicking off your next scrum team. Make sure to check out the back catalogue, and leave me a comment or a message if you have something you want to add or clarify. Then, head to to see how our training and coaching offers can help you, and your team as a whole.

11 Ways You Can Inject Some Joy into your Videoconferencing

Working from home getting old? Here are some ways to make meetings with disparate teams a lot more fun, adding some laughter and interactive features to your latest videoconferencing zoom call. 

Have Fun with Backgrounds

fun backgroundsTeleport yourself to the leaning tower of Pisa, or lounge in the Oval Office or on stage at Carnegie Hall. Float weightlessly in outer space, or pretend you’re a member of the Simpsons family. The options are limitless with Zoom’s background feature, toggled on or off from the gear icon in the top right-hand corner. The one below was shared by the Star Trek team on their Twitter account! Encourage your team to be creative with their backgrounds – or challenge them ahead of time with a theme, such as European, TV, or a specific color choice. 

Ice Breakers

Ensuring that you start a meeting with small talk is a good way to ease a team into a conversation, and enable social contact between teams that are working from afar. But it can get a little dry when everyone’s talking politics, or stuck with “how was your weekend” chit chat. Instead, with a bit of preparation, you can get a lot more out of those first few minutes. Try challenging two or three team members to come armed with ‘two truths and a lie’ for the group to guess between, or ask everyone to send in an interesting fact ahead of time, and then see if the team can match the fact to the person.

Schedule Time for Movement

Especially in long meetings, it can be tough going to stare at a screen and sit still when you’re alone. Every 20 minutes, encourage the team to stretch, walk around, and rest their eyes from the meeting room. Depending on how comfortable you all are as a team, you can do anything from guiding the participants in a five minute yoga session, to engaging in a full on dance party! We love the JustDance app, that turns your smart phone into a controller, and allows a whole team to copy dance moves in sync. 


bingoThis one takes a little more forethought, but can be a great way to get teams engaged in a remote meeting. Create bingo cards that you can distribute ahead of time, via email. These could be anything from ‘buzzwords’ that often come up during meetings such as “Furthermore” “Let’s circle back” or “With all due respect”, or you could use events such as “Someone loses connection”, “A kid or pet disturbs the meeting” or “repeat question”. Here’s a great example from RedBubble that you could even get printed on a range of merchandise if you wanted! 

Fancy Dress Friday!

Or any other day, now that we mention it! If you don’t think you’ll have much luck encouraging your team to arrive in full superhero get-up, why not start small, with a fun hat or an accessory challenge? You can all vote for best costume, and it’s an easy and light-hearted way to get a meeting started in style. 

Use those Collaboration Tools

One of the things that makes remote meetings less engaging is when there is one team leader, and the rest of the participants are passively watching. Zoom has a lot of collaboration tools that you can use, from Remote Control, where another user can take control of your desktop, to Annotations, allowing the whole team to use arrows, draw feature, highlight and more of a shared presentation. You can also make the most of your usual collaboration apps such as Google docs while you’re all mid-meeting. 

Start with a Trigger Activity

activityRemote working can be just as productive as in-person meetings, but it can really make a difference to pull the team together with an activity at the start. Consider whether you want something that’s ‘just’ fun, like the Tiny Campfire idea you can see below, which can be ordered complete with ice-breakers, ghost stories and individual tiny campfire kits, or whether you want to try to link the activity to your meeting agenda as a whole. If your team is filled with parents that are likely to have the bricks to hand – Lego Serious Play can be a great way to facilitate conversation. 

Welcome to my Crib!

If you’re all working from home, why not encourage your team to start off each meeting with a particular person giving a quick tour of their home, or their office or study? We’re all secretly interested in one another’s battle stations, and it might give the rest of the team some ideas for their own! Encourage the person in the spotlight to explain their working set-up, do they have multiple monitors? A special ergonomic chair or desk? Inspiration on the walls? Time to brag!

Bring your Pet/Kid to Work Day

It can be a little embarrassing when your toddler or your dachshund video-bombs your meeting, whether they’re looking for a snack or a bit of affection. But it can also be just the pick-me-up that your participants need! Instead of ignoring the interruption, try leaning into it! Ask the team member to introduce the unexpected guest, and let them have some screen time, too! 

Get a bit Visual

visualShaking things up could involve helping out your visual learners with something that isn’t just talking and listening. One fun idea is to get the team talking via emoji’s in the chat box, forming full sentences with the help of our pixelated buddies. Encourage your team to share their artistic skills, drawing caricatures of one another and inviting the other participants to guess who they might be, or even getting their creative juice flowing with something like this awesome spreadsheet pixel art! Bet you never knew you could do that on Microsoft Excel! Here’s a free template you can use for starting Pixel art, courtesy of 

Try a Competition

There’s nothing that breaks people out of their stupor like a little competition! There are a lot of ways that you can add some friendly competition to a meeting to get the adrenaline flowing. A couple of top tips are using external sites such as where you can pit your teams typing skills against one another, or try something more intense like, where your team can band together to ward off zombies! 

What other ideas have you found that have really added excitement and joy to your remote meetings? Share them in the comments! 

Agile QuickTip: Estimation a drag? Get the whole team involved.

Estimation a drag? Get the whole team involved.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, getting your entire team involved in the estimation process will end up providing more clarity, and actually improve your plans overall.

Let’s just admit it. Estimating stories or other backlog items is not fun. A lot of times it can even become contentious or combative, and it’s not hard to see why many people view it as a waste of time.

Let’s shift the way we think about this whole process. I think estimation can be an opportunity to get different perspectives and create alignment amongst your team. This is why an important part of estimation is to get the entire team participating. This way, you can get different team members perspectives on the various solutions and assumptions and finally get convergence on the path you want to take.

Remember, your team didn’t start off agreeing on the size of the story. Its only after agreeing on the assumptions, the work, and the complexity that a team agrees on the size of the story. If everyone is involved in the process, then even if you end up being wrong, at least you’re all on the same page.

Did you find that QuickTip valuable? If so, let me know in the comments! If you have any further thoughts on the topic, I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to send me a message. You can also check out to learn more about out training and coaching offerings, all of which can make a real difference to both you, and your teams.

Agile QuickTip: Conduct your daily scrum in front of the board

Conduct your daily scrum in front of the task board

The daily scrum provides team members an update on exactly what’s happened over the last 24 hours, what has been learned, and what sort of adjustments need to be made over the next 24 hours.

However, have you ever thought about how you’re hosting your scrum, and the team members for whom it may be less effective? As many as 65% of people are visual learners, which means that a purely auditory scrum might well pass them by, or make it a lot harder for them to pinpoint questions they have, or information that is missing from the daily roundup.

One technique that really helps clarify the daily scrum for all participants is to conduct the stand up in front of the team’s task board. This way everyone can physically see the team’s plan at the same time as they are getting updates on it. Team members not only hear what’s happening, they can also see what’s happening.

This has the added benefit of providing more context, more information, and more background. It also better allows your team to notice if something is missing, or if something’s fallen off the plan that should be there.

I hope you enjoyed that Agile QuickTip and found it valuable. If so, be sure to check out the rest of the series. I would love to get your feedback on this tip or any others that I’ve shared, so leave a comment below, or send me a direct message. Also, don’t forget to head to to see how our training and coaching offerings could help both you, and your agile teams.