A Christmas Retro

Like any business analyst out there in the agile world, I aim to keep the team engaged by experimenting with styles of retrospectives.

With the lead up to Christmas I decided to apply a theme based around Charles Dicken's story 'A Christmas Carol'.

For those who might not heard of this story before.. A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. After their visits Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

Scrooge learned how to process an emotional depth and a regret for lost opportunities, but reflecting on the past, understand his current actions, and seeing what the future could look at it's worst.

The main theme around this story is transformation!.. and like any agile team out there we are continuously looking to transform and improve.

The Christmas carol retro is broken into the 3 key areas; Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Yet to Come.

Ghost of Christmas Past

This is to get the team thinking about what has happened at the beginning of the project such as how it was kicked off, details that weren't considered or missed, what stakeholders included, or data that would of been helpful.

The Christmas Past lane is broken into two columns: What worked well and what didn't work?

Actions out of Christmas Past will more than likely be long terms changes or actions that can't be done right away and are to be considered when beginning the next team project.

Ghost of Christmas Present

This is similar to Christmas Past in that it is also broken into two lanes but it covers our current day to day processes: What is working well and what isn't working right now?

Actions out of Christmas Present should be achievable or implemented almost immediately whether it's improve team board lanes, WIP limits, improve collaboration, 3 amigos.. Etc.

Ghost of Yet to Come

In the Christmas Carol, the ghost shows scrooge how bad his future could be if he didn't make changes. Although I have listed this step last to stay aligned with the Christmas carol story, but running the retro I would actually put this first.

For 'Yet to Come' have the team describe what would be habits of a bad/unproductive team and then describe what is the ultimate winning agile team.

The reason I recommend to have this as your first step is because it will help get people's thinking caps on what they envision a great team to be and the bad habits that should be avoided. Also listing these attributes will help the team reflect when discussing Christmas Past and Present.


Like all retrospectives ensure your actions are actually actioned… people love a good rant but don't actually do the follow up.

So make sure you assign actions then and there, and not after the meeting!... and then review at your next retro!

Other bonus tips to improve team engagement:

○ Rotate which team member runs the retro

○ Switch up the venue, instead of a meeting room head to a near by café

○ Bribery … who doesn't look a sweet or chocolate

○ Keep track of any reoccurring issues, maybe you need a more specific retro to cover and review topics

Or keep it simple:

You could keep your christmas retro more straight forward with a simple lanes called 'Merry Christmas' and 'Bah Hum Bug', and then action the items!