Mike Cohn’s Most Popular Blog Posts from 2020

10. Use a Pre-Mortem to Identify Project Risks Before They Occur

9. Overcoming Four Common Problems with Retrospectives

8. Are We Really Bad at Estimating?

7. Can There Be Too Much Transparency?

6. How to Estimate Story Points with Multiple Teams

5. Time Pressure Improves Productivity & Quality…Up to a Point

4. Can a Team Vote Someone off the Team?

3. 25 Questions that Will Help You Know Your Teammates Better

2. Is the Distinction Between Outcomes and Output Overdone?

1. Are Estimates Ever Helpful to Developers?

A Christmas Retro 🎅🎄

I received the following format via the https://retromat.org/ newsletter:

Emoticon Project Gauge (#32) goes Christmas
10 min | Source: Andrew Ciccarelli

Search and print images of Santa looking

• shocked / surprised

• nervous / stressed

• unempowered / constrained • confused

• happy

• mad

• overwhelmed

Let each team member choose which Santa reflects how they feel about the iteration. They can also give a short reason, if they want to.

Letter to Santa
20 min | Source: Corinna Baldauf

Hand out pens and paper. Give the team members 10 minutes to write a letter to Santa Claus making one big wish for the team. When everyone is done, go around the circle and read out the letters. Are there common themes? The following activity will work better if several participants make the same wish.

Wish granted (#50)
15-20 minutes | Source: Lydia Grawunder & Sebastian Nachtigall

Give participants 2 minutes to silently ponder the following question: ‘Santa grants your wish and it comes true overnight. You come to work the next morning. How can you tell that Santa granted your wish? What is different now?’ Let everyone describe their ‘Wish granted’-workplace. Participants with the same wish can imagine and describe together. (You need breakout rooms for this in a remote setting.)

The more details people describe the more tangible and desirable this future becomes. Keep asking people what they will see, hear, smell, how they’ll behave, … It will lead to better action items.

Be the elf you wish to see in the world
15-20 min | Source Corinna Baldauf

Alas, we all know that Santa Claus isn’t real. Invite the team to be their own Christmas elves. What can they do to turn their wishful future into reality. How can they get one step closer? If there are many suggestions, dotvote which action items the team is going to implement.

Emoticon Project Gauge (#32) goes Christmas – again
5 min | source: Andrew Ciccarelli

Reuse the Santa faces from the beginning. This time ask which Santa reflects how they feel about the retrospective.

If you can, spend some more time in each other’s company. Maybe your organization sent out Christmas packages and you can all share the same cookies or drink the same punch together?

inspired by Santa faces.


Retropoly is a game to be played during retrospective meetings of Agile teams. It is based on the Monopoly game concept. It is mainly designed for Scrum teams, but it is suitable with minor adjustments for any other Agile methodology. The game is basically a fun, yet practical, tool to apply the twelfth principle of Agile manifesto: https://www.agilepractice.eu/retropoly/