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Agile Question of the Week

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Effective Icebreakers

Retrium Team

“What is the most effective icebreaker you have used to start a retrospective?”

When I asked this question on LinkedIn as part of our #AgileQuestionOfTheWeek, I was blown away with all the fantastic answers from the  many skilled and amazing practitioners in our community. Simply asking this question on LinkedIn in our #AgileQuestionOfTheWeek series generated a lot of amazing answers. 

I have reviewed the amazing answers we received and made my best effort to summarize this post and its comments. A giant thank you to the amazing people who answered this question. I hope this is helpful to you.

In my personal opinion, the Top 10 comments were:

  1. From Chris Stone:
    “For remote sessions I like encouraging attendees to grab a random item from their study or wherever they are working and tell a story about it. I've learned that some members like calligraphy, are learning guitar, have random skulls, all sorts of things that you'd never have learned otherwise. Usually a good relaxed way to kick off a session.

    My favourite random one is 'if you could have the legs of any other animal, which would they be and why?'

    That one is usually good for a giggle or two

  2. From Mark Metze:
    I can't claim this idea but I've seen "Meme of the Sprint" used effectively. Every person on the team shares a meme that summarizes how the Sprint went. Not only a fun ice breaker but gets everyone thinking.

  3. From Rajesh Ravisankar:
    What was one of the many acts of random kindness that you did last week?

  4. From Priyanka Azad:
    I've had someone pick an image (google an image) that represents them, everyone puts the image on the virtual board. Then the catch! You can't pick your image but someone else's to describe yourself. Not my idea though.

  5. From Vasanth Venkatachari:
    I like the “jog your memory” kind of questions. I ask them to think of what is the oldest item they might be having in their deep freezer and how long it has been there.

    And another one is also around this. Given that everyone is working from home, I ask them to look for the oldest thing in their house and talk about how old it is and a story around it. I was surprised to see a watch passed on through 5 generations!

    Both these techniques I use to relate to retro saying that, retro is similar. We got to look back, think a few weeks back and recollect what happened during the sprint.

  6. From Richard Acosta:
    Hello everyone! Depending on the number of participants, I use a Liberating Structure called "mad tea" to paste up to 3 questions in the chat, one by one and give 30 seconds to the team members to send their answers, but inviting them to press enter only after these 30 seconds are gone. That is a variation from using mentimeter. Another exercise is two break the group in pairs and invite them to share an object that represents themselves. By doing this in pairs instead of the whole group people tend to turn on their cameras easier.

  7. From David Horowitz:
    What's the best dessert you've ever had and why?

    (Not sure it's the most effective but it certainly is fun!)

  8. From Mitch Goldstein:
    What's a place you have always wanted to visit?

  9. From Busola Odebode:
    Mention 2 truths and a lie. And we all guess which is the lie. Make our minds wonder, hilarious and so fun.

  10. From Marsha Shenk:
    I've been delighted with the results of asking people in trios to spend less than 2 min each sharing a recent rich interaction, then spending 4 min as a trio reflecting on what they observed about themselves and each other. it's a Dignity Looping exercise from

  11. (BONUS) From Nicholas Walsh:
    Great topic Isaac - we've got more than 300 to try (for free) -

If you liked this post, follow #AgileQuestionOfTheWeek and join the ongoing conversation. 

If you would like to submit a question for a future post, send me a LinkedIn message. 

Agile On,

Isaac Garcia

Director of Community at Retrium

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