3 Ways to Spice up Your Next Retrospective (Part 2)

In part 1, we explored two concepts, the Starfish Retrospective and the Three little Pigs, each a retrospective activity. They are designed to reflect and analyze an agile team’s way of working to help adapt the team into a higher rate of efficiency.  You can view part 1 here.


The starfish retrospective technique helps agile teams by getting them to reflect on varying degrees of things that they want to bring up, without having it fit into ‘What Went Well’ or ‘Not So Well’ so it scales a little bit better. This concept was introduced by Pat Kua.

Draw a starfish that will create 5 partitions as follows:

  1. Keep Doing – something the team is doing great and you recognize the value of it.
  2. Less Of – something the team is already doing; you see some value, but you rather reduce a little bit.
  3. More Of –  something already being done; and you believe will bring more value if done even more.
  4. Stop Doing – something that is not adding value or causing hindrance to the team.
  5. Start Doing – a new idea, a new development practice,a new tool or something that might add value.

Getting people to either write things up under the starfish in this manner gives you a scattergram of sorts and at one glance tells you the health of your project. Once again identify the action items and work on the improvement areas.

Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs is a fun retrospective activity that is based on the fable featuring anthropomorphic pigs who build three houses of different materials. A wolf blows down the first two pigs houses, made of straw and sticks respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig’s house, made of bricks. This activity was introduced by Steve Wells.

1.Draw and explain the participants the 3 columns:

    • House of straw – what do we do that just about hangs together, but could topple over at any minute.
    • House of sticks – what do we do that is pretty good,  but can be improved.
  • House of bricks – what do we do that is very solid and we need to continue doing it.

The participants write their opinions on sticky notes and post it under respective columns and later are filtered and common entries are grouped. The action items are identified and assigned to respective team members.

Another similar approach is Thirsty crow based on the story of thirsty crow that comes upon a pitcher with water at the bottom, beyond the reach of its beak. After failing to push it over, the bird drops in pebbles one by one until the water rises to the top of the pitcher, allowing it to drink.

    • Straw(assume the bird can use straw to drink water) – What we are doing is awesome and we need to continue doing it.
    • Stone/Pebble –  What do we do that is pretty good,  but can be improved.
  • Cork(Floats) – What we are doing is not helping us rather blocking us from reaching our goal.

Retrospectives do not have to be serious all the time. Make sure retrospectives become pleasant and enjoyable activity. Make sure you celebrate small successes or accomplishments no matter how small they are.

So what are you waiting for? Try out any of these creative techniques and spice up your retrospective.

You can find more innovative ideas for your retrospectives here:





Prashant Hegde
Prashant Hegde is a passionate Tester. He has ably led test teams to success in many organizations and helped them improve their application quality process. Prashant currently heads the QA Team at MoEngage. MoEngage is the leader in the mobile engagement market, with presence across Asia, Europe, and the US.

Prashant is an Agile enthusiast and enjoys sharing his experiences by blogging and participating in agile communities around the world. Prashant is a Certified Scrum Master and a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Prashant has helped thousands of ISTQB aspirants to clear their certifications with his free app ISTQB test mentor.