One Word Retrospective Game

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Post-its and pens is all you need!


Each Team Members place a word on the board that highlights the sprint for them

Team Plays Sprint Dictionary

One team member selects a word of the board
Everyone BUT the person who put it up on the board discusses what they think the team member meant by the word
The thoughts are captured
When everyone has said all the want to say, the team member who put the word up shares what they meant by the word

Team Discussion

After the team member shares their thoughts , the team discusses
What did we just hear from everyone?
What can we glean from what we heard?
Are there some underlying feelings, issues, etc. we need to dig deeper into?


Team Members places another word on the board that highlights the sprint for them if they have them

repeat team discussion

Lost For Words?

When there is nothing left to say (no more words)
Where do we put them?

Bury It- we want to leave behind and not take forward
Pack it – we want to put in our backpack and take with us
DEV Server – We need to work on this, put on our backlog

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Rating: 4.5/5 (22 votes cast)
One Word Retrospective Game, 4.5 out of 5 based on 22 ratings
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12 Responses to "One Word Retrospective Game"
  • Michael Wallace August 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Easy way to stimulate conversation in the Retrospective.

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    Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)
  • Bill Asch September 8, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I’ve used this technique for years and I love it…especially when you are dealing with a team that is new to Agile. I usually put the answers into a spreadsheet and review them months down the road. It can be really fun to see how a team’s answer evolve over time. It’s even more interesting when you map it to Features or Releases. Team’s can more deeply appreciate their progress in doing that.

    Most importantly, I find this is a great ice-breaker technique for a Retrospective

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  • katherine colby April 20, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    I used this one the other day. Fantastic, new team and everyone got involved and participated.

    I’m looking forward to doing it again.

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    Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  • Lauren Thomas April 21, 2017 at 3:51 am

    Thank you. we find it is one of the more effective games we use

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    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  • Kevin O'Brien June 30, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Great retro! Used for 8 person scrum team. I blocked off an hour, but that was not enough time. This retro gets people to talk! So make sure to schedule enough time!

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    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  • Lauren Thomas June 30, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Thank you. We use several games but we use this the most because of how effective it is

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  • JoAnna November 1, 2017 at 10:56 am

    My team loved doing this as a retro. It really helped get my quiet team talking.

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  • Lauren Thomas November 1, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Thank you JoAnna! I found it was a good tool to bring up difficult discussion points and get them resolved

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  • SD November 9, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Great game. Tried it and team liked it – very interactive and fun to put yourself in another team member’s shoes. Made each team member become aware of others and how they think too.

    Question for Lauren – could you please explain more what you meant by Bury It and Pack it?
    The last one to put on backlog and work on it is self-explanatory… wanted to understand what is the difference you meant by “Bury It” and “Pack it”.
    “Bury It” to me means accept something the way it is and move forward. Can’t make any changes to improve the situation.
    “Pack It” sounds similar to to making an action item and putting it on backlog… looking to understand what you meant by this one.

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  • Lauren Thomas November 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

    “Bury It” is something you don’t want to take forward to future sprints. You don’t want it resurfacing…so you bury it. “Pack it” is something that worked well, the team learned….something that will be useful going into future sprints. it’s like when you go on a hiking trip, you pack what will be useful to you in your pack….you don’t carry anything that isn’t important.

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  • Lauren Thomas November 9, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Bury it is something you do not want to resurface in future sprints.
    Pack it is something that was very useful and we want to use in future sprints

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  • Tom September 28, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    I still don’t quite get “Bury it” or “Pack it”. What is “it”? The word that drove the discussion, a summary of the discussion, take-aways / conclusions / action items?

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