In scouring the web for new retrospective techniques, I stumbled upon two great resources. The first was a book by Ester Derby, Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great, and the other was an Agile Wiki specifically for Retrospectives, Just in time for the holiday, the Christmas Carol Retrospective focuses on a few year-end behaviors to be shared with the team, living in the now, appreciation for the team, and wishes for Santa. Here’s a summary from the Wiki on how to run the Christmas Carol retrospective.


Begin the retrospective by telling the tale of how the real story of Christmas Past, Present and Future goes. If you need a little reminder, check out the muppets classic video for ‘research’ or simply breeze over the Wiki Page. Next, give everyone a set of cards/post it notes and pens. First, Christmas Past, this is an opportunity for the individual team member to reflect on things they regret or wished they could have changed. This doesn’t necessarily need to only reflect on the previous sprint, but it could reflect on the project from inception. Have the team members keep their answers to themselves. Second, Christmas Present, this is where the team members can share in the efforts and appreciation of the team around them. Highlight collaboration, communication, teamwork and other positive comments. Again, have the team members keep their answers to themselves for now. Third, Christmas Future, is a chance to prepare a wish list for how you wish the team/project will change/improve in the new sprints to come. After discussing each of the sections, give the team about [15 minutes|time box] to reflect individually and write down 0..* responses to the areas. Write the categories on the board so the team can post their cards next to the words ‘Christmas Past’, ‘Christmas Present’, and ‘Christmas Future’, when the time comes. When everyone is ready, start up again by telling them that while you appreciate them crafting regrets – it’s time to let them go! Have them hold up the regret cards and then tear/crumple them up and throw them away. Next, have the team bring their cards up and post them next to the categories. Work through the Christmas Present cards by reading the card out loud and spurring a conversation on the summary. Write down any action items. Next, do the same thing with the Christmas Future cards. There will probably be a few more action items in the Wish List. Note that this retrospective is especially suited for sharing candy canes during the activity.


To add a special twist on this Retrospective, try adding a fourth category called ‘the Grinch’ and discuss how the Grinch may steal christmas, which could be a metaphor for any risks that you have in the project or risks that could be upcoming. During the review of this category, there may be action items that can help to reduce or mitigate the risks.