• Agile Queen

A Story Writing Retro


This retro can be modified to be shorter if you are pressed for time. Modification would be to remove the Set the Stage activity and have the Data Gathering Activity of Story Writing double as the Set the Stage activity since all participants will have to read their story aloud. This retro can be really good to get at underlying feelings that are not coming out in other style retrospectives.


Set the Stage – Zip, Zap, Zop

1. The first player claps their hands, says “Zip", and points at another player in the circle. 2. The player that was pointed to must immediately clap and point at someone else in the circle (including the previous player), saying “Zap". 3. The third player continues the pattern, this time using the word “Zop". 4. The pattern of words repeats, going: “Zip", “Zap", Zop", “Zip", “Zap" etc. 5. If anyone hesitates or says the wrong word, they take a strike. 6. Three strikes and a player loses, which ends the round. 7. Try to play the game with some speed to increase the chances of a mistake.


Data Gathering Activity - Story Writing Use shaping words and have your team write a 100 words or less paragraph about last sprint. Shaping words can be anything that will provide insight into the team. The shaping words must be used at least once in their story. Throw one or two "fun" words in to drive creativity and laughs, too.


Shaping words: Sad, Mad, Glad, Toilet, Cloudy

Example story from participant: “I was really glad that the demo (sprint review) went as well as it did. But I was also mad that we kept having to go off on tangents at the end of the demo. It made me sad that we had to defend the work we did and then the customer just threw it all in the toilet. I was also sad when I found out that we are losing a team member, Sara. The team is going to be cloudy without her.”

Have each team member read their story and then identify common themes.

This leads to a more discussion based retro. Ask the team what trends they heard for each of the shaping words and what it means. Ask the team how they can lessen the sad and mad feelings and expand on the glad feelings to create actionable items for next sprint.


Closing Activity - personal note

Have each team member write one emotion (joy, encouragement, negativity, etc.) they want to focus on improving for next sprint and write that down on a post-it note. Team members do not have to share this – but remember to check in at the next retro and ask if the team members improved on the emotion they wrote down.