10 Fun Retro Icebreakers
The Retrospective is an opportunity for scrum teams to look back at their activities and develop an improvement plan for the next sprint. Ideally, the previous sprint went well, but it doesn’t always happen. Tempers or resentment can flare and team members may not be in the mood to share their ideas. When this happens, you can lighten the mood to get people talking and ready to contribute.
You may also be onboarding new members to your team and so you’ll have to introduce them to an existing team. To become a harmonious team, they should at least start exchanging insights.
A common problem with retrospectives is reluctance among participants to speak up. People can choose not to participate actively in discussions for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they don’t feel comfortable with the team members yet, think that their opinion is invalid, or are not sure if their point of view will reach other members. In newly formed teams, new members may not yet know the etiquette. It’s never easy to be a provocative person.
But to run a successful retro, members need to start talking. It is definitely worth getting to know each other, at least to some extent. This way you can get to know the character of the person and his attitude towards you and the rest of the team. Here are 10 icebreakers that you can use to get people talking and build closer relationships.
The task is difficult when the meeting is held remotely, but there is a patent for everything. You can start with:
Each participant prepares a few questions for the others, the scrum master creates new cards puts them up on the board. Random and funny ones work best. Using an online randomizing machine selects the question, as well as the person whose turn it is to answer it. This way, no one feels disadvantaged by the choice as it was a random choice. This type of warmup can prepare participants for further conversations and successful discussions. It may start with simple subjects, then fill the pool of questions with more difficult ones. Play until everyone has the opportunity to speak and answer at least one question.
Never have I ever
First, have your team members list activities that they’ve never done, but think other people have. As you play follow the pattern of “never have I ever…” and fill in the blank. If members of the group have done it, put down a finger up or make a signal to say they have. The first one to put down five fingers wins. So things like “never have I ever been abroad” or “never have I ever seen Star Wars” can turn into a great icebreaker to get your team talking.
Regardless of whether you conduct a meeting among people you know well or whether it’s a regular sprint retro. Bingo always works. Again, it can take many forms. For the remote version, you need a tool that will enable you to mark the answers on the boards. The game is based on the fact that you have to find people who meet the conditions described on the board as soon as possible, e.g. he is short, wears glasses, likes Italian cuisine. In this case, we need to find someone who fits and enter that person's name in the appropriate box.
This game should also be held live but can be easily done online. You will need something to write and the function of breakout rooms on Zoom, for example. Each participant writes down three nouns on a piece of paper that somehow describe him/her. The task is to talk successively with other participants, trying to guess what the indicated word has in common with a given person. If someone does not guess, the author of the card tells a short story behind the word and we try to remember as much as possible. In this way, we learn more interesting things about ourselves than during an ordinary “Let's get to know each other.”
Two truths and a lie
This game is similar to “three words,” but this time from the sentences written by the speaker, the team’s task is to guess which statement is a lie. The game is much more fun when the participants are just getting to know each other and have not the faintest idea of what may or may not be true. You can be very surprised! You can play it one-on-one, or put your two truths and one lie on the forum and let the whole group guess. They can confer and make decisions in turns.
Three common things
For this one, it will be best to pair and then switch. The job of each duo is to find at least three things they have in common. They can be anything, musical, culinary preferences, taste in film. The key is to find out about your favorites, which may trigger a further discussion about them. Who knows, maybe you belong to the same fun club or attend the same restaurant. If you find the three things in common on your lists, you can move on to the next person and play with them. But don't make it too easy, think of some interesting things.
Finish the sentence
We take turns in which we ask each participant to finish a sentence, for example regarding previous experience in work, or on the current project. It could be: My greatest advantage at work is... I don't like working on... My favorite assignment so far was... and so on. This game is a good introduction to the next working module, it is better for small groups.
If you are using Microsoft Teams, you know that there is a virtual hand-lift function. It is a great help to conduct an online game, which, as the name suggests, is about raising your hand. The leader asks the group a question such as do you have a pet? And if any of the participants has a pet, they raise their hand. The leader can change with each question to give everyone a chance to learn something about the participants. Easy questions may become more difficult, but they don't have to. The course of the game depends on the group and how comfortable they feel in each other's company. We don't have to force anyone out of their comfort zone.
Each participant must select an animal with which to identify. He must give arguments as to why he feels so or common features for himself and the chosen animal. When describing an animal, it will also describe itself, so we will learn a lot about ourselves without feeling ashamed. In this way, we are also able to learn a lot about ourselves or finally find out what spirit animal we are. Try to find non-obvious features.
Where in the world?
Ask participants where they came from, where they have been, where they would like to travel someday, and more. Provoke an interesting discussion with these questions. If there are travelers in your team, it will surely loosen their tongues. Share your experiences. Maybe you will plan an integration trip in the future? This icebreaker can be insightful and fun for any group of people, but it's most fun when it brings people from all around the world together. You can also learn more about the cultures of other countries if you plan to go there.
Icebreakers are simple training methods that guarantee group integration after the first minutes of the meeting. You can easily break the ice, introduce a relaxed atmosphere, reduce the fear of judgment and build trust between meeting participants. The beginning of getting to know each other may be difficult and discouraging, but it will be positive after all. These few fun ways of getting to know each other will certainly make this task easier for you. With each future meeting, these games will become more and more interesting for you. Try each of them and choose the one that allows you to get the most interesting information about your team members. Good luck!