May the 4th Be With You Retro

Set the goal/ context (1)

The goal of this retrospective is to look at the values of the team; openness, respect, commitment, focus, and courage, to identify and gather feedback from Sprint __, and to create action items to improve challenges as well as continue to maximize what is working for the team.

Focus ON: Agile, Scrum, Team (5)

Ask the team, “who said each of these and how do these quotes relate to Scrum, this team, or Agile in general?”

 “This is a new day, a new beginning” – Ahsoka Tano. Agile and Scrum are centered on change and new beginnings, trying new things to improve and grow.

 “Your focus determines you reality” – Qui-Gon Jinn. It relates to Scrum b/c it is highlighting how Scrum is about focus and how if you focus on succeeding you will and conversely if you focus on failing you will.

 “Great kid, Don’t get cocky.” – Han Solo. Scrum is about being creative and courageous but remaining humble with estimation, team work, and iterations that produce in smaller amounts so that the business side is able to weigh in on if they really want what they think they want.

“Your eyes can device you. Don’t trust them – Obi-Wan Kenobi. Agile and Scrum if done well are a great blend of analytical quantifiable information mixed with gut feeling, hunches, and instinct.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try” – Yoda. Scrum is about doing – granted we try different things to see what works but in attitude we DO – and then make adjustments and DO again.

Focus ON

GOAL: Help the team to think about how many things around them in day to day life, movies, etc relate to Agile, Scrum, and being part of a team. Ideally, this will also help them to feel better connected to the underlying principles of Agile so that they can become more Agile in their mindset.

Check In – Scene Sharing (homework required) Here is the homework to email to your team, be sure to give them some time to prepare. “Prior to the retro please think of a scene from Star Wars (or any other movie) that represents one or more of the 5 team values; respect, openness, courage, commitment, and focus. You can either describe it to the team or share a clip of the scene on video through a phone or laptop.”

Watch the clips as a group and guess what the team value/s is that each clip is supposed to represent.

GOAL: Help the team connect with each of the values by thinking of scenes from favorite movies where they are exhibited.

Energizer – Human Rock Paper Scissors STAR WARS STYLE  

Divide the team into two teams by starting at one end and having the first person say 1, the next person says, 2, the next says 1, and so on. Then have all of the 1’s stand on one side and all of the 2’s stand on the other to make 2 teams.

Then instruct the two teams they will have 2 minutes to come up with their own hand signs for light saber, force choke, and blaster and that they need to create a strategy for winning best out of three Human Light Saber, Force Choke, Blaster.

Then say something like, “OK we are going to do three rounds back to back. Best out of 3 wins. I’ll say 1, 2, 3 and on 3 each team should do their first strategy. Immediately, I’ll do it two more times. Remember, light saber beats blaster, force choke beats light saber, and blaster beats force choke. Whoever wins the most out of 3 wins.

Goal: They worked on teamwork, strategic thinking, and being creative, all while having fun and getting up out of their seat 😉

Gather Insights – Star Wars

Divide the canvas into four parts, drawings are encouraged, (they don’t have to be pretty, but they encourage the team to participate). The right side is the Jedi – Good side of the force, the left side is Sith – Evil side of the force. Add the following, one into each quadrant;

  • Alderaan – things that are good, keep us moving forward, increase the forward momentum of the force of the project and team as a whole.
  • Death  Star – things that are killing the team or progress, slowing us down, not helpful or good. We should stop doing them.
  • Tatooine – dry lifeless, not fruitful, we should do less, do better or change them.
  • Forest Moon of Endor – helpful, productive things we should do more of but still need refinement.

Gathering Data Empty

  • Explain each of the quadrants with the team and ask if they have any questions?
  • Remind them to put one idea per post it note.
  • Either have everyone hold feedback and put it up at once or have people add their feedback when ready.
  • Read them out loud, combine any duplicate comments, and ask if anyone wants to elaborate on what they shared.
  • Ask the team to come up with SMART Action Item/s for the most popular issue/s.


Close-Out – “Would you rather?” Star Wars style

Create your own or use any of these below. Print and cut them into strips. Place them into a bag or container of some kind and have the team pass it around. Start with the first person, they select one, open and answer, then pass the container to the person next to them.

  • Would you rather be Jedi or Sith?
  • Would you rather be Obi Wan Kenobi or Yoda?
  • Would you rather talk like Yoda or breathe like Darth Vader?
  • Would you rather fight with a light saber or a blaster?
  • Would you rather live with the Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks people the Gungans?
  • Would you rather live on Tatooine or Hoth?
  • Would you rather ride a Tauntaun or a Bantha?
  • Would you rather have Han Solo or Rey as your pilot?
  • Who would you rather have as a side kick, Chewbacca, Maz, or BB-8?
  • Meet Jabba the Hutt or Darth Sidious?
  • Would you rather be Anakin or Luke Skywalker?
  • Would you rather be C3PO, R2-D2, or BB-8?

GOAL: fun way to close out the meeting, everyone can learn a bit about their team mates.

Normally we have snacks during Planning Meeting, but we mixed it up for this one and everyone brought in a StarWars themed snack. I have compiled a great list on Pinterest – you can check out with out an account here. The Star Wars font can be downloaded for free and signs can quickly be made. Everyone really enjoys it!

Food wide shot Food 3

Food 2  Food 1


Help Agile Knoxville BE Agile

Let’s not just Do agile, let’s BE agile!
Transparency is the stem that everything comes out of.
Adaptation and Inspection are the other two foundation principles.


So let’s practice inspection and adaption with Agile Knoxville Meetup and help me make it better or at least get a few more people to come! 😉

Just takes a few moments of your time

Comfort Zone Series – Goals II

Fear of change is another major factor that many have to contend with in order to set goals, especially as a team.

Fear – noun 1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
virginia-satir-change_process-by-michael-ericksonFor some people the fear of change trumps the potential benefits of the change itself, at least initially. The old status quo may need improvements but at least it is familiar, at least it isn’t change. As a member or leader of a team, it is good to keep in mind that some in your team may be resisting change because they fear it. It can be tempting to pull back when there is resistance. But resistance itself isn’t enough to make you not follow through with the change, the question is why is there resistance?

Courage – noun 1. the ability to do something that frightens one. 2. Strength in the face of pain or grief


It takes courage to push through resistance. Being able to help the team be courageous is one of ways a Scrum Master “encourages” the team. In this instance, ultimately the goal is to uncover both the logical and emotional blocks and to eliminate each one. Brainstorming on the pros and cons, and taking the time to allow everyone to have the opportunity to share any concerns helps to identify most, if not all of the issues to resolve. During this process listen closely to not only what people are saying but how they are saying it as well, to look for emotional concerns as well. Often resistance comes from a bad past experience at another job, or even where everyone is now. Sometimes it is something personal, and sometimes a group setting isn’t the place to address everything. Remember not every reason is logical, be respectful when helping people confront fears. Think the monster under the bed, allowing your child to get up and look under the bed with you and determine for themselves that there is nothing there to be afraid of, eliminates that issue, usually. Did you know you would be part counselor when you wanted to be a Scrum Master? 🙂


Every time I have been a part of a team there is a mix of people; some are eager to try new things and experiment to make things better = build windmills. Others shut down, resist, and drag their heels when it come to change = build walls. The way this usually plays out is that change happens at a much slower pace than some on the team want it while simultaneously happening faster than others on the team want it!

  • Do you have any windmills builders on your team?
  • Do you have any wall builders?
  • How do you navigate the dynamics between the two?

So how are the blocks eliminated? How can we help those afraid of change to feel better about it, to be courageous?


  1. One of the best ways is to help them to focus all of their energy on building the new, not fighting the old. This can be anything from creating a detailed plan, to daily reminders of progress, or the benefits of the goal. Think loosing weight and how much more productive it is to focus on making good choices than to sit around all day and wish you could eat a chocolate cake!
  2. Doing it as a group often helps many people by giving them a sense of camaraderie and fellowship which increases their courage knowing they aren’t taking the risk alone.
  3. If a success after a failure can be identified, reminding everyone that endings can change and just because something didn’t work once, doesn’t mean that no matter what you do, it is doomed to fail for eternity.

How do you encourage your team? How do you handle those who fear change?

Comfort Zone Series



com·fort zone noun

1. a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress. “times when we must act beyond our comfort zones”


When I see the image above, I think of the old adage below,

 As a Scrum Master, your job (or part of it) is to help the team get to where the magic happens. And yet as a Scrum Master this insanity is one of the main things that I see again and again. So many teams want the benefit of change but when it comes to acting and thinking differently they often resist! There is plenty of talk about the benefits of increased productivity, satisfaction, and creativity but it seems few mention that 90% + of the time the team will have to get out of their comfort zone in order to truly accomplish these goals.

One of the things I’ve noticed about effectively implementing Agile is it always seems to require that at least one, if not several team members get out of their comfort zone. And while everyone usually wants the benefits of implementing Scrum or some other Agile methodology, it is rare to find a team member that is actually willing to cheerfully get outside of their comfort zone.

It reminds me of how many of us want to lose 5 lbs (or more!) but don’t want to watch what we eat and get more active because it takes us out of our comfort zone. It is easier to give in to the craving and not push ourselves past where we are comfortable and so we remain in the same ole’ place. Sometimes there is fear associated with the resistance as well. Using the weight example, I may know what I like to eat that has caused me to be overweight but what will I eat if I don’t eat what I’m used to? What if I don’t like it? What if it takes too long to prepare or is more expensive?  Change can be scary for some people, so in a team setting we also need to manage the different time frames that various team members are able and willing to adopt change.

  • Do you agree that the magic happens outside of our comfort zone?
  • Do you have any tools to help your team get out of their comfort zone?
  • Could you use some coaching on how to coach your team to get out of their comfort zone?

I’m going to do a series on how to help your team get out of their comfort zone with practical exercises, tips, and experiences from what has and has not worked for me. The goal is to do weekly updates.

Stay tuned for more!