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Retrospective Cookies

Box of 10 cookies $9.99 + shipping 

As a Scrum Master, one is supposed to change up the format of retrospectives so that the team doesn’t get burned out. I’ve given a lot of thought to what makes a good retrospective, and what my teams have enjoyed or learned through them.

The best retrospectives I’ve taken part in include 2 things:

  • Questions that get the participants to think deeply
    This can be something as simple as “What went well this sprint?” and “What could we improve on?”, or it can be more creative and more complex, like Thorsten Kalnin’s great Draw The Problem Retrospective. Regardless of the form, it has questions.
  • Food
    We’re social animals. There’s nothing more social than eating together.

Knowing these two immovable facts, I came to one simple conclusion: GREAT retrospectives should put food and questions front and center.

Did I mention I also love cookies? Truly. I’ll go out of my way for a good one. If only there was some type of cookie that you could put a little note in. A note with one of many unique questions specially made for a Scrum team. Hmm…

Drawing from the rich tradition of greasy Chinese food restaurants in America telling you what your lottery numbers should be via a tiny slip of paper you’re not supposed to actually ingest, I had a batch of cookies made up especially for the Agile community. Cookies with delicious questions inside for your team’s retrospectives.


Retrospective Cookie StickerQ: How do I run a Retrospective Cookies Retrospective?

  1. Order a box of cookies below (it’s my Beta batch, so I’m selling them at a discount).
  2. When they arrive, let your team open the box during their retrospective. Inside they’ll find 10 fortune cookies.
  3. Each team member takes a cookie.
  4. 1 by 1, each team member opens their cookie, reads the question, and answers it. If the team would like, give them 5 minutes of silent writing time to gather their thoughts.
  5. You – in your inimitable Scrum Master way – should draw out details by following up with probing questions or asking other team members to add their two cents when appropriate.
  6. A team member eats said cookie, and often says “Yum!”
  7. Wash. Rinse. Repeat until all participants have taken part.

Q: What sorts of questions will your team find in the cookies?

  • What was the most effective thing you did this Sprint, and why was it so successful?
  • Does our current release plan reflect reality? Why or why not?
  • What was our Team’s biggest impediment this Sprint?
  • What was the most helpful thing the Scrum Master did this Sprint? Why was it helpful?
  • What 3 things could the team do to help improve communication during Sprints?

Box of 10 cookies $9.99 + shipping

Thanks to Jimi FosdickPetri Heiramo, Angela DruckmanMichael James & Lisa Crispin for adding questions to this batch!

21 Responses to “Retrospective Cookies”

  1. Jo Root February 3, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    Just received and used my first shipment of cookies (in the UK), and facilitated a really good retrospective! Not knowing the questions in advance prompted really sponatenous, honest answers. Firstly, the cookie owner answered his/her question, then we went round the table with everyone giving their response or responding to something already raised. Retrospectives can easily get stale so this was an amusing and productive way to freshen them up! Thanks Adam.

  2. Zakiyya September 4, 2013 at 2:44 am #

    Please bring some to #SGZA13 :)

  3. BORIS GLOGER March 26, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Very nice idea – congratulations. Boris

  4. Crystal Watson January 17, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    We used the Retro Cookies at our last retrospective. The team really enjoyed them and we had some very good discussion.

  5. Dan Neumann December 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Thanks for the post. We were curious about the shelf life of the cookies. We would like to get several boxes to use at a client site, purchasing at year end but maybe not using some of them for a while. Can you offer any guidance on how long the cookies are good for?

    • Adam Weisbart December 15, 2012 at 4:38 am #

      Hi Dan,

      This current batch should be fine for the next 3 to 4 months. Does that give you enough time?

      Best,

      -Adam

  6. Wim Veninga December 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Great idea! Would realy like to use thse. Do you also ship to The Netherlands – Europe?

    • Adam Weisbart December 15, 2012 at 4:39 am #

      Thanks!

      Yes, I do ship them overseas. In fact, about half my orders are sent to Europe. There’s a minimum shipping charge of $18 US when I send out of the States, so you’d do best to order 3 boxes (3 x $9.95 + $18 shipping).

  7. Tony Bruce March 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Awesome idea.

    Looking forward to trying them.

  8. Craig Strong November 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Great post! I really love this idea. A great way to keep a high level of engagement and avoiding a linear approach. It also pulls each team member in well.

    Thanks for sharing this. I'll place an order soon.

  9. Richard Kasperowski October 19, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    My team is retrospecting with the cookies right now. We're getting a lot of new ideas from these new prompts. What fun, and they taste good, too!

  10. Luke Hohmann October 5, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Great post! I especially like the first point – you need questions to help the team think deeply. I'd like to add that sometimes the best question isn't the question – it is the visual metaphor that you use to get teams to think deeply about a problem.

    For example, a lot of Scrum teams are using Innovation Games like Speed Boat to help them identify the "anchors" that are holding them back from success. Other teams use Nick Oostvogel's "Actions for Retrospectives" or Diana Larsen's "Circles and Soup" to help them create actionable results. And distributed teams can use the online versions of these games to help make sure the whole team is available (minus the food – cookies from web browsers aren't often tasty :-).

  11. Shyam October 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Adam,

    This is a great idea.

    Here are a few modifications that I'd suggest – so that I could use it for my teams.

    1. Allow me to insert question of my choice
    2. Allow me to decide the batch size.

    For instance – I usually do 3 questions per retrospective – and so I will by 3 batches – each containing one question.

    My team is about 12 or so. So allow me to order the number of cookies per box.

    So – what will I be willing to pay for it? About the same $1 per cookie.

    Yeah!!! I'd also like overnight shipping on it – if possible. :-)

    Anyway – a great idea…

    Thanks!!!

    Shyam

    • Adam Weisbart October 6, 2011 at 12:05 am #

      Shyam: Thanks for the feedback. I likely won't be making custom cookies like you're asking for, but I am taking suggestions for questions to add to the next batch. Feel free to email me any you have in mind.

      I actually like that no one knows which questions will come out of the retrospective, including me. Often the best learning comes from what one doesn't expect.

  12. Ciarán &Oacut September 30, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    Fantastic idea. I would be quite interested in your cookies if it weren't for the (astronomical?) price of $1 per cookie…

    • Adam Weisbart October 6, 2011 at 12:02 am #

      Hi Ciarán! Glad you like the idea. Since this first batch is quite small, there's not much economy of scale. I likely won't break even on the cookies — I just really wanted to get the idea out there to see if people liked using them.

      That said, I don't think $10 is all the much for an hour or two retrospective with my team. I pay that for snacks every once in a while anyway.

      If you'll be at the London Scrum Gathering, I'd be happy to hand you a cookie for free ;-)

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