IMPROVing Retros

Again another pretty simple Retro technique for which I can’t really take much credit for combining two well known techniques. This one is best used for gathering data during a retro and/or generating insights.


For this retro you will need some Improv or coaching cards (see links below). This time I used the free cards from Management 3.0. You will also need to decide on your retro format, draw from one of the usual ones such as Mad/Sad/Glad, Done Well/Do better, Change/Retain etc, etc. For this retro I chose Liked/Lacked/Longed for/Learned.


Gather everyone round a table and lay out the Improv cards so as many can be seen by the group as possible. Write the labels on post its and place on the table. Introduce the exercise by stating you would like the team members to look at the pictures and pull out any which make meaning for them particularly within the context of any of the labels. Then discuss what the image means to the person and brainstorm ideas.



For example, the above retro next to Liked the picture representing two people sitting at a table was to represent pairing and collaboration. Longed for the Compass represented direction.


Where to get the Improv cards

If you want to spend some money on some decent cards check out these from the awesome Barefoot coaching:

For a cheaper alternative, you can download them and cut them out, check out these from Management 3.0.



Improv Games

If you and your team enjoyed this Retro then maybe explore Improv games as an Energiser to your next retro.


Wayde Stallman has the definitive list. Improv games help set the atmosphere and energy for teams to build on each other’s ideas to innovate.


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