blog overview
Nicole Williams, 27 Oct '16

4 Retrospectives That Will Get Your Marketing Team Thinking Creatively

Use marketing retros to experiment and learn as a team. Here are four resourceful ways to make marketing team improvement an enjoyable habit.

Recently we shared the benefits of adopting retrospectives with your marketing teams. Regular retrospectives (retros), get your team into the habit of examining how they work and coming up with ideas on how to improve. This continuous improvement develops experimentation, ownership and leadership skills at all levels.

Retros are best run in four phases:

  1. Review retro goals from the last meeting (5 mins)
  2. Individual brainstorming to encourage everyone to participate (10 mins)
  3. Discuss ideas as a group and how they could be implemented (10-15 mins)
  4. Decide on goals for the next sprint (5-10 mins)

The following creative retro ideas help with the second phase, generating new ideas for improving how the team works. These formats are designed to prompt the team to think both critically and positively. Retros are a chance to acknowledge what is working not just criticise what needs to improve. The retro facilitator should aim to keep discussions constructive and not negatively toned. Retros are a valuable opportunity to improve as a team, not moan or complain!

Here are four different ideas to do just that.

During retrospectives, have your team make LEGO creations that reflect the last sprint. Click To Tweet

Idea #1: The textbook retro

If you’re starting out with retros you might want to begin with a simple textbook format. Pose the following questions to the team and ask them to individually brainstorm ideas:

  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working?
  • What should we stop doing?
  • What should we start doing?

Give the team 3-4 minutes to write down ideas, and then share them as a group. If two people have the same idea, group these together. At the end you might notice trends with multiple people suggesting ideas on the same topic. You can use this to drive the discussion on what ideas to implement, or ask the team to “dot vote” on their favourites.

To help prepare your team, you might also use a “learning matrix” during sprint time. This is a place to gather ideas as they come up so that they’re remembered during retros. This can help teams new to retros or less comfortable generating ideas on the spot.

Idea #2: The sailboat retro

This exercise prompts the team to think about both challenges and assistance that could improve their performance. Draw a large pirate ship on a whiteboard with a sail and anchor. Ask the team to individually brainstorm two topics:

  • What’s holding the team back? (to be stuck on the anchor)
  • What could speed the team up? (to to be stuck on the sail)

As with the Textbook retro, once all the ideas have been shared, facilitate a group discussion on which ideas to try in the next sprint. To set the team up for success, only try 2-3 new ideas each sprint. Track how you progress against them throughout the sprint to be able to effectively review in the next retro.

Idea #3: The lego creation retro

Playing with Lego in a meeting might seem childish or unproductive but it’s the complete opposite. Lego can be used in the workplace to stimulate creativity, communication and new ideas.

First the team spends 4-5 minutes individually making a Lego creation that reflects the last sprint. Then ask each person to explain their creation to the group, other team members can ask questions about the creation. Next, challenge each person to add to their creation to show how they could have improved the last sprint and share again. Encourage everyone to think creatively and have fun. Turning ideas into feasible improvements to implement should wait until the group discussion stage.

Jot down ideas discussed on a whiteboard so that there’s a record for the team discussion part of the retro. Facilitate a discussion on how the team could improve the next sprint using the ideas from the Lego creations.

Idea #4: The superhero retro

Ask each person to sketch the team as a superhero and describe the character’s superpowers, weaknesses and side kick. Once completed each team member again presents back to the team and you can facilitate a discussion around the the similarities and differences of how each hero represents the team.  From this discussion ideas for strengthening powers and reducing weaknesses can be generated.

This idea was shared by Katrina the Tester and expanded to include a second exercise where team members swap superhero drawings and come up with ways to bring the sidekick to life. This encourages the team to think freely about what would help their own superpowers shine.

During retrospectives, describe the team as a superhero and list its strengths and weaknesses. Click To Tweet

Retro goals

At the end of every retro the team should agree to 2-3 improvements to trial for the upcoming sprint. Share these with the team post-meeting. To keep improvements top of mind during sprints, print them out and display in a visible place.

Retros are designed to encourage experimentation and learning so don’t be scared to come up with your own formats and ideas. Failure isn’t a possibility in a retrospective!