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Retrospective — Collaborative Drawing

Improve team’s collaboration


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Rohit Ratan Mani

2 years ago | 2 min read

The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint — Scrum Guide

I have been trying out different Improv games from the book (Improv-ing Agile Team: Using Constraints To Unlock Creativity by Paul Goddard) and Collaborative Drawing is the one of the activities I have tried with multiple teams with success.

This activity can be used as an icebreaker, team building activity, learning collaboration and to retrospect your sprints. In this article, I will share my experience of using it and some impediments to look out for.

Collaborative Drawing is a timeboxed team activity where each team member draws one line at a time and tries build up on the idea.

Round 1:

1) Timebox it for 5 minutes (5–7 Team members)

2) Team members are free to self-organize around the flipchart (can be a queue or stand around the flipchart)

3) Ask team to think about a picture that represents their sprint (let them think for a minute before introducing the next step)

4) During the timebox nobody speaks about what they are drawing

5) Any team member can start by drawing a line, curve, circle or anything and passes on the sharpie to the next person

6) Team should try to complete the picture by the timebox

You might see some people hesitating as for them drawing a picture means art and, in their mind, they are not artistic. Give them freedom to draw anything be it disruptive to what others are converging the picture to. Sometimes the pictures do not make sense at the start but as the timebox comes closer you will see team members trying to give a meaning to the picture.

Inspired by GoT

Round 2:

  1. Team to name the creation in this round
  2. Each team member will write a letter and pass on the sharpie
  3. Team can stop when they agree that name makes sense

Timeboxing round 2 is optional but if the team is not able to decide, give them a timebox of 2 minutes.

When the team balanced multiple work and sailed through

Talk about how the picture evolved from an individual idea and how did the team feel about it. Bring in collaborative effort that was shown during this activity and how collaboration is useful as a team.

At the end of round 2 have a conversation with the team:

1) How does the picture represent the sprint?

2) How is the collaborative picture different from individual picture that they thought off?

3) How should your next sprint picture look like?

Come up with actions for improvement in next sprint as part of this conversation.

When the team had an epiphany and suppressed the underlying demon in the sprint

“A Picture is worth a thousand Words “

I like this activity based retrospective as it builds a safe environment for team members to speak up. Collaborative drawing helps team members to work together and have fun doing it.

Also, interpreting the pictures brings in different perspectives which helps in understanding success or impediments in the sprint. A good coaching conversation at the end of the activity helps in achieving the value for the retrospective.

Tip: Try this activity based retrospective when you observe low team bonding or with a new team.

If you do run this activity, please let me know how you get on with it!

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Rohit Ratan Mani

Agile Coach

I am a life coach working as an Agile Coach supporting individual, teams and organisation in transforming.


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