The Hobbit/LOTR retro

September 22nd is Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, also known as Hobbit Day. So in honor of Hobbit Day I created a retro for the team to asses how Scrum is going Hobbit/LOTR style.

Stage #1 – Set the goal/ context (1 min)

The goal of this retrospective is to look at how the adventure of Scrum is working or not working for the team, to identify and gather feedback from Sprint XX, and to create action items to improve challenges as well as continue to maximize what is working for the team.

Stage #2 – Focus ON: How Scrum is/ has been an adventure for the team (5-10 min)

Post and have team members read the following memes. Then ask the questions below and write down the responses from the team.


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  1. How has Scrum been an adventure during the last however long you have been using it?
  2. What has surprised you about how the adventure of Scrum has been? Have you been surprised by any changes you have seen in yourself, your team, &/or your place of employment?

Stage #3 – Check – In; Riddles (5 min)

Post where everyone can see/ read these or copy and pass out. Give everyone a couple minutes to write down answers on a post it note. Go over answers and laugh/ see who watched/read the Hobbit so many times they memorized/ know answers.

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Stage #4 – Energizer; The Hobbit Questions

Type each question out and cut into strips, place in a bag, hat, bowl… and let each team member pick two and answer.


Stage #5 – Gathering Feedback

  1. Create 4 quadrants on a white board and draw an image for each or use the pics below.

The-Shire-the-shire-33427044-600-382 The Shire, represents everything that is good and right in the world/ your team/ job etc.

782px-Ted_Nasmith_-_Across_Gorgoroth Mordoor, represents everything that is so bad and wrong in the world/ your team/ job etc,.. that it needs to stop.

735px-Ted_Nasmith_-_Entering_Mirkwood Mirkwood/ (The Forest of Great Fear) – represents things that you are fearful of happening or are happening. It is where you see entropy at work, things that suck you in and you can’t get out easily.

images (2) Rivendell, represents the place where things are good but there are multiple threats and that good state could change if not protected. In this space put things that are working but could stop working if attention is not given to them.

2. Ask teammates to add notes to each area; “So, in the context of the adventure Scrum has been/ is, please share what you consider; things that are good and under little to no threat this is represented by the Shire, things that are not good and need to be changed/ stopped this is represented by Mordoor, things that you are fearful will or are happening and areas where entropy is at work this is represented by Mirkwood, and things that are good but are threatened and without attention could turn into Mordoor, this is represented by Rivendell. Please write one on each post it note and place them on the board where they go when you are ready.

Stage #6 Analyze and Create Action Items

  1. Go through and read the post it notes, group them together if applicable, and dot vote to chose one or two to brainstorm on Action Items on if applicable. Reminder to ask the team for solutions rather than proposing them yourself 🙂
  2. Write down the Action Items that team agrees to commit to and make sure it is a SMART goal.
  3. Review the progress on the Action Items from last sprint and adjust accordingly, if need be.

Stage #7 – Close-Out; team choice “Would You Rather Hobbit Style” or 5-10 min of playing a Hobbit video game individually.

Would you Rather questions – print and cut them out and pass around like energizer questions.

  1. Would you rather Be a dwarf or a hobbit?
  2. Would you rather hang out with Peregrin “Pippin” Took and Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck or Aragorn and Gandalf?
  3. Would you rather be part of The Fellowship of the Ring or Dumbledore’s Army?
  4. Would you rather watch Hunger Games or the Hobbit Trilogy?
  5. For your birthday would you rather have the Hobbits be in charge of the festivities and Gandolf at the fireworks (party may last a few days) or be given a birthday present by the Elves and Dwarves?
  6. Would you rather shoot arrows like Katniss Everdeen or Legolas?
  7. Would you rather be roommates with the Seven Dwarfs or Thorin Oakenshield and his dwarfs
  8. Would you rather live in a Hobbit house or a tree house?
  9. What was the better prequel trilogy, Star Wars 1-3 or The Hobbit?
  10. Would you rather have to fight goblins or orcs?

The video game is HERE

Enjoy and please don’t forget to incorporate FOOD into your festivities. There are so many fun things to make like lembas, seed cakes, and bacon and eggs plus things you can just bring like Swedish fish, hot tea, cheese plate etc. Here is a Pinterest page  I manage full of snack ideas and HERE is a website with recipes.

Please share your pics and feedback – and stay tuned for our pics. We will be doing this on Tuesday, September 26th.


Let’s Meetup and Retro Notes

Retro Notes for Agile Knoxville Meetup and Retro


Check-In (5) One Word

Please write on a post it note how you would describe 2016 with one word – you may also use one song, book, or movie title, even if it is more than one word.

RESULT: Everyone shared a word or a movie and why and we all got to know each other a little better 🙂

Focus ON/ Points to Consider (5) Being Agile vs Doing Agile

47248cf16bd691d952e1f623369c8a31 agile-definition agile doing-agile-not-being-agile dont-do-agile-be-agile-4-638

 Discussion questions:

  1. Is thinking about being agile vs doing agile new for anyone?
  2. Is anyone seeing any areas where things could stand to improve at your job?

RESULT: It wasn’t exactly new for anyone but after looking at the handouts they were thinking about it in a different way and saw that there was a major difference, AND that it was often the missing link between how things “should” be and how things “are”. Everyone saw areas where things could improve at work and within ourselves as well.

Set the goal/ context (1) The goal of this retrospective is to look at being agile vs doing agile, to identify and gather feedback from each of our places of employment, and to create action items to improve challenges as well as continue to maximize what is working that any team could also use.

Energizer – Agile Principles

  1. Ask the team about the twelve Agile principles. If they know it jump to the next point, if they don’t do a brief introduction to Agile values and principles.
  2. Ask all team members to stand up.
  3. Read loud and clear the twelve Agile principles. For each one of them, any team member that thinks the team is accomplishing the principle should remain standing up, but if they think they are not fulfilling the principle they should sit down
  4. Keep reading until everyone is sitting down.


RESULT: The team sat down fairly quickly, but I continued reading through all of them and the team shared if they would stay sitting or not on each one.

Gathering DataDAKI Drop, Add, Keep, Improve


While thinking about the difference between BEING Agile and DOING Agile factor in how things are at your place of employment or an old place of employment. Then think about what things you would drop and what you would add. What you would keep and what you would improve on. Please write one thing only per post it note and when you are finished go ahead and bring them up and place them where they go. We’ll take about 5 minutes to think about it.

  • Opportunities
    • Report Portal Revamp, New Portal, Portal Reincarnation
    • Team Services
    • Performance Optimization Refactory
    • New Markets
    • Rapid Company Growth – Future
  • Threats
    • Work Space
    • Non-Sprint Distractions
    • Production Issues/ Performance Issues
    • Loss of Focus
    • Snow
    • Internet Issues
    • Got an email from Casamba aka Source Medical
    • Org Merges (Athletico, Doesn’t in Scrum)
    • Computer Issues
    • Time
    • Office Space
  • Weakness
    • Company Communication or rather Non Communication
    • Performance Issues, toed to performance – overall tech
    • Getting bogged down in complex work, moving too slowly
    • Lack of Focus (personal)
    • We have slipped back into vague tickets (no defined acceptance criteria)
  • Strengths
    • Agile responses to new production problems
    • Communication
    • Scrum Communication
    • Faith
    • Team, Great team, Team, We are a pretty disciplined Scrum team, Open environment for new ideas and improvements

 Analyze and Create Action Items:

Since we are all on separate teams this is not the same as it usually would be but I thought we could still take a few that have several people mentioning them or are the most common and we could come up with some Action Items that any one of us could take back to our jobs and implement.

Action Items – not in usual SMART format b/c of the nature of doing a retro for people working in different places etc.

  1. Accountability
  • Create exposure
  • Create a process for people on the team who have to deal with other commitments
  • Work with people who go off and do their own thing individually and help them to be part of the team
  1. Show the 12 principles of Agile and help teach the team with them
    • Show one a day and discuss or do a game with it to practice it
    • Show/ discuss one per retro and go a little more in depth, it will also take longer
    • Gamify the principles
    • Teach about the value of being Agile vs being Agile
  2. For negativity/ apathy etc,..
  • Deal one on one and find the root, what are they opposed to and address it with them
  • Don’t push, nudge OK depending on who?
  • Try to find a way to cater Agile to them so it serves their interests so they see how it benefits them
  • Go slow – don’t do everything at once
  1. Companies should adjust their thinking to attract the type of people and skill sets they want to be added to their teams and acknowledge that these awesome people could also go work at other places like Google, or Facebook.

Close Out – ROI

Vertical line with smiley face at top and sad face at the bottom. Asked for a post it note to be placed where on the scale you think it should be when thinking about your ROI on the retro/ meeting and if you want to say why good or bad just leave a note on the post it not and I will use the feedback to improve retros and you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts to make them even better.


  • Great retro
  • Your ability to maintain control over conversation while listening to responses

P.S. I’m aware that the formatting for this particularly the Action Items is not the best but I’d rather not delay getting this out any longer vs make it perfect – I hope it doesn’t detract from the content too much 😉