Retrospective Facilitator Gathering

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RFG 2012 Retros and Neuroscience

Convenor: Linda Rising Participants: Ilja Preuß, …

Research shows that we are sensitive to temperature in making judgements about people and events. Set up a warm meeting room to encourage positive feelings.



  • Toys to keep hands busy
  • Wordless communication exercises
  • Do not move the talking stick, move the speakers
  • Gallery walks
  • Build the project using cardboard and tape
  • Use pipe cleaners to fiddle around
  • Go for a walk (related to “take a break”)
  • Pair walk & talk
  • Switch places between exercises
  • Do a body exercise before starting a retro
  • Provide pendulum seats or sitting balls
  • Energizers
  • Fidgets & fiddling gadgets
  • Ice breakers
  • Walking scales (= Solution-focus tool in 3D)
  • Regular warm-up, activation exercises
  • Do exercises where people have to move
  • Move around the room. Put posters or chairs in different parts of the room. Move between them to gather data, etc.
  • Walk & talk
  • Constellations
  • Regroup
  • Let them get the material
  • Active activities
  • Games
  • Hot chair
  • Oranges on the table and difficult tea bags.
  • Pantomime the problems



  • Hip flask
  • Pot luck with everyone bringing a dish to share
  • Do retro while cooking a five-course meal
  • Let people bring some food
  • Cook together before, after, during the retro
  • Having fruit and drink available during the retro, not just during the breaks
  • Remind people to drink water
  • Feed your team
  • Water and nuts on the table
  • Invite “nuts”



  • Visual exercises
  • Don’t only rely on color for meaning
  • Sticky notes and colored napkins
  • Use colorful pictures as metaphors
  • Have colorful objects in the room
  • Use color appropriate to the phase
  • Some combos of color “vibrate” painfully
  • Color on the flipchart
  • Daylight in the room
  • Colored shadows on the flipchart
  • Postcard retro
  • Art – drawing, painting
  • Colored light
  • Paint walls
  • Use different colors, e.g. for good, neutral, bad lets you easily create a heatmap on the wall
  • When scribing, alternate marker colors



  • Animal talking stick
  • Animals sometimes take over implicit roles in a meeting, watch the animal and ask what information it is telling you
  • The animal of the Muppet show
  • Bring your well-mannered dog to work
  • Observing an animal, increases observation skills
  • Pet rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters in a room
  • Hexabugs – gadget animals
  • Teddy bears stroking mascots
  • Animals as metaphors, exercise components,
  • Aquarium in the room
  • Bring my stuffed octopus as a talking stick
  • Animal metaphors of all kinds
  • Our office dog always creates an atmosphere of relaxation and he’s allowed to join any meeting he wants to



  • Have a break to walk outside
  • Look out the window
  • Exercise outdoors
  • Go outside to have a break
  • Retro in the park
  • Pass a basket of fruit for smelling and eating
  • Have nature inside – flowers, plants, fresh air
  • Hiking retro
  • Have the retro outside
  • Project pictures of nature on the wall
  • Build company garden houses
  • Retro in the pool
  • Retro in the forest
  • Bring a little nature in the workplace – plants, flowers
  • Use nature metaphors
  • Have outside workplaces
  • Daylight lamps
  • Do brainstorming outside
  • Retreat retros



  • Portable mattress provided
  • Add a 60 minutes speech after lunch
  • Buy a couch for the team room
  • Allow yourself to skip evening events and go to bed early (occasionally)
  • Sitting still (meditating) until the bell rings
  • Encourage power naps and provide space
  • Yoga at the start of the retro
  • Include guided visualizations



  • Use gestures
  • Play roles in funny voices
  • Listen for and utilize clients’ metaphors skillfully
  • Learn a new foreign language and from there reflect on your native tongue
  • Do quiet exercises
  • Process using pictures and images
  • If you switch to a language that is not your native one you make more rational decisions
  • Let the results be sung
  • Create appropriate words

Take a break


  • Let longer retros/meetings span over night, e.g. afternoon + morning
  • Have some minutes of absolute silence
  • Change the idea of a break as something unproductive
  • Everyone close your eyes and think of this.
  • Quakers start every meal with silence. We could do the same for a retro.
  • Add games/activities as a break.
  • After 2 hours you’re kidding yourself.
  • Meetings and retros with the Pomodoro technique (focus for 20 min, take a break for 5 min)
  • Take a short walk
  • Use the co-pilot to manage the breaks
  • Have a break after each exercise
  • Let fresh air into the room while having a break
  • 30 change exercise, 90 min take a break
  • Take the team dog out
  • Pomodoro technique, divide into short segments with a 5 min break
  • Moment of silence



  • Timothy Wilson, Strangers to Ourselves
  • Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind, Drive, podcast
  • Cordelia Fine, A Mind of its Own
  • John Medina, Brain Rules
  • Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide, Imagine
  • James Zull, The Art of Changing the Brain
  • Podcasts: brainsciencepodcast, 60-second Mind
  • David Rock
  • Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight, book and TED talk
  • Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, TED talk
  • George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
  • Paul Zak, TED talk on oxytocin
  • Antonio Damasio, Descarte’s Error
we4.2.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/27 07:58 (external edit)