Distributed retrospectives?


I am curious what others are doing for retrospectives with virtual teams? My teams have been performing well, but honestly the retros could use some more excitement. I know there are tools to guide distributed retros, but what are some games or techniques you like for more mature and trusting teams?


I have a few things I have done.

  1. 360 appreciation is always a good team building tool in a retro
  2. Happy Sad Mad Glad
  3. Word association game (something I came up with for retros)

Aside from the standard questions. We have also used bonusly. This is a good way of looking at positive things in a sprint.


I know you weren’t looking for tool recommendations…but…I had a great conversation and demo with David Horowitz the co-founder of Retrium (retrium.com) last week. It seems like a pretty slick tool. Perhaps that could mix things up as well. I like to focus on learning and helping others in retros. If you aren’t asking questions like “what did we learn” and “who did you help this sprint” that could be something to consider.


Thanks Andy this seems like a really cool tool!


GroupMap.com is also a very nice tool for distributed teams. Offers many templates, build your own from scratch, and a great number of configurations.


Hadn’t heard of that one. Looks great. Thanks @andycleff


Retrium.com is pretty cool I’ve given it a whirl recently. I’m also a big fan of https://realtimeboard.com/ for retro’s and have even used it for distributed story mapping.


Hi Ryan, we did some retros with virtual teams using http://stormzhangout.com - thats based on google hangouts.


Thanks @Arne! I’m going to check that out


Hey @Arne, when you have a min, you should introduce yourself in the Welcome to the Coalition thread :wink:


We would welcome candid feedback on our free retrospective tool- https://www.scatterspoke.com/ Create a team, search old retros, add/remove columns, customize your questions, and more exciting features coming soon! Our pro tip: create a retro at the beginning of your sprint and make notes of all your retro items right when they happen so you don’t have to spend time trying to remember what you did two weeks ago :smile:


My teams just started new sprints today. I will see if any are interested in piloting this today


Just wanted to say we used this the other day for retro and it was great. The team really enjoyed it thank you Andy.


@Colleen, I tinkered with ScatterSpoke recently. So cool! I think I am going to use this for a project the Agile Uprising board is taking on right now!


Awesome! Thanks for giving it a try. If anyone has feedback on features or suggestions for what is missing, definitely share!


Yes! Something I coach (that doesn’t always get the greatest adoption)! Works for local retros too! :smiley:


This seems incredibly obvious, but I am going to say it anyway. The two things I have done to create energy and connection with my teams for retrospectives:

  2. Start with some sort of “icebreaker” question. Sounds cheesy, but it breaks the ice of communicating via video and gets people smiling and in a good place before we start. I try to be intentional about what questions I use if I know something in particular is going on with the team.

Also, LOVE Retrium and now I am a fan of Scatterspoke too! :slight_smile:


As @Todd mentioned above, I’ve recently found RealTimeBoard. Has built in templates for Retrospectives, Story maps, personas, lean canvas, customer journey, mindmap, fishbone, Venn, and many more.


On my distributed teams they really like doing virtual lean coffees. I used a free site http://www.leancoffeetable.com/ to hold the coffee. Just don’t lose your ID and password, I have not seen a way to resend the password. My team actual asked to run the retrospective this way. I say, if the team actually asks for it, it must no be that bad.



@BoggsyGirl03 +1 on both counts. I worked with a 100% distributed team for about a year and we discovered the same things. Video on is a non-negotiable when you can’t be face-to-face. And ice breakers are really important too.

I heard an interesting talk by Jutta Eckstein at Agile2015 about distributed teams. She noted that team building is much more difficult when you’re not collocated, which makes it much more important to take a few minutes at the beginning of ceremonies like retros and stand ups to invite folks to talk about their families, their hobbies, fun trips they’ve taken recently, anything that excites and interests them that they’d like to share. I took that back to my team and we found that our conversations were much more lively and we had more fun working together in general. We did a lot of other things too to build up camaraderie and have fun that I’d be happy to discuss if anyone’s interested.

As far as games and techniques - my teams really liked the 4 Ls and Lean Coffee. We tended to gravitate to those two formats probably a little too often, but the conversations were always very engaging. I played the superhero game with one team early on (everyone drew themselves as a superhero and then held their drawing up to their camera as they talked about their super powers and their kryptonite, etc.). That particular team didn’t really like drawing though, so we went back to more traditional formats like the 4 Ls, mad/sad/glad, etc. most of the time, but I still occasionally threw in something creative to keep them on their toes. :wink:

We used Real Time Board for a while and then switched to Symphonical (https://www.symphonical.com/account/login/) - it’s pretty lightweight and easy to use. It looks like it’s been reimagined now as a new tool called Upwave - I haven’t tried that version out yet.