M&M'S Retrospective

M&M'S Retrospective

2018, Mar 16    

Retrospectives are at the heart of the agile process, without continuous improvement, agile is nothing.

While it seems like a simple exercise to do, it’s actually really hard to self reflect and think of vectors of improvements. For that very reason, I try to change the way we do retrospective for every sprint.

Depending on the context and the momentum, everything does not always work, and it might be hard to bring people to speak openly about what we want them to.

It’s quite challenging to find new ways to facilitate retrospectives every time. It can take the form of a simple talk, a starfish, a speedboat or its many variants or even a keep drop start

My customers always brought some biscuits on demo days and I stumbled upon the candy love retrospective this week. We needed to try it !

How does it work ?

Well first you need a bag of M&M’s, take those with the nuts inside. Otherwise it’s just smarties on disguise. People would be disappointed and I would be disappointed!

You hand the bag to someone and ask him to pick one without looking. Depending on the colour they picked, they have to talk about a particular subject.

Willing to base the chat on experiences, these were the rules I set :

green m&m's An awesome feature we delivered
red m&m's A moment you particularly liked
blue m&m's Something we should probably do next
orange m&m's A moment of stress

Notice I omitted two colours, well I used them to bring some more fun into the retrospective. With theses rules :

brown m&m's Pick another one
yellow m&m's What's your favorite book, movie or food?

It might also be a good idea to allow a wild card. In my case, if someone had nothing to say, they could choose to throw some story cubes and tell a story. Giving kudos to someone who have helped you could be a good idea too… It would probably turn out great!

When the person tells their experiences, a chat usually starts by itself. If it doesn’t, you can use the 5 whys to take the discussion further.

Once the discussion is over, make someone else pick a M&M’s!

Choose your rules depending on how you want the retrospective to turn out:

  • Do you want to point the downsides?
  • What worked well?
  • Is the point to bring the team closer?

You can even animate a future-spective with this workshop.

Be careful though, it seems red and yellow M&M's appear more rarely!


Everyone was eager to say something and nobody had the need to use their wild card.

The discussions it started were very interesting and we never had as many insights with any other workshop. It was a very pleasant activity and despite my rule not to use twice the same retrospective, I already want to use it again.

Note: It doesn’t work very well if you do your retrospective right after lunch…