Top 5 trending retrospective activities

What are the top 5 activities used for retrospective? What other activities are trending lately?

Apr 18, 2022 · 4 min read

Insights - Graph of retrospectives, 2022

We recently released a set of new retrospective activities. These activities enhance the available list, offering more options for this vital scrum meeting.

We took this opportunity to check out the usage of all the activities offered in Team O’clock. So we checked years-long data about the retrospective activities that teams prefer to perform their reflection.

A graph showing spikes in Retrospective usage for 2022

Retrospective activities data & analysis

In Team O’clock, you have access to 19 preset activities to choose from, or you can create a custom activity for your team.

To see the most used activities, we gathered data for all the presets for the last 12 months, from April 2021 to April 2022 so far. Since we introduced new activities in this period, not all activities were used each month.

What we’ve noticed from the high-level analysis, is that there starting in 2022 more teams performed retrospective sessions! On average 15% more retrospectives are conducted each month of 2022. We aggregated the data mid April 2022, and in April there were as many retrospectives conducted as in the whole of December 2021.

Digging deeper into the data, we checked the retrospective activities that teams prefer to do their reflection meetings on. These are the top 5 activities in terms of usage:

Pie chart showing that Start-Stop-Continue, Went well-Didn't went well, Mad-Sad-Glad are the most trending retrospective activities

Retrospective activity usage breakdown by volumes of sessions per activity

The activity of Start, Stop, Continue is the preset activity when starting a retrospective in Team O’clock and it seems that teams feel comfortable using, it without messing around with the available options.

Another interesting observation is that 4 out of 5 activities in the list focus on a pragmatic approach to the retrospective rather than a more playful one.

A graph showing that Start-Stop-Continue is by far the most popular retrospective activity, followed by Went well-Didn't went well. The period is April 2021 to April 2022

Top 5 retrospective activities usage in the last 12 months

Checking the top 5 retrospective activities used in time, we see that Start, Stop Continue is trending down in usage. While two of the activities in the top 5 are trending upward, they cannot cover the losses of Start, Stop, Continue activity. Essentially teams are using more of the other activities offered, which are not in the top 5, adding diversity to their retrospectives.

This means that the teams performing retrospectives are trying out new activities to keep the engagement high. Checking data from April 2022 — where we introduced 8 more activities — we see some new trending activities like:

The road to continuous team growth

The above analysis reveals some very promising directions for teams using scrum methodologies. The retrospective plays an enormous role in ‘agile’ (and not ‘Agile’), as it requires real effort and will to grow from the teams performing it.

First of all, we see more teams performing retrospectives, thus embracing growth in their ceremonies.

Finally, we see a slow trend of teams stirring away from the default activities and exploring more intriguing activities, spicing up their reflection meetings and digging deeper for improvement.

Nikos Vasileiou

Author: Nikos Vasileiou

Nikos has been into Engineering Management and Agile coaching roles, working on software development and product design in Team O'clock.

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