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An Agile Christmas Carol Retrospective

An Agile Christmas Carol Retrospective

A Christmas Carol is a classic holiday story written by Charles Dickens. There are spoilers ahead for those of you who have not read it. The story’s synopsis is that Ebeneezer Scrooge, a greedy banker, is visited by three ghosts. They are the ghosts of the past, present, and future. They show Scrooge the error of his ways to help him for the better. Ultimately, he wakes the following day, changed for the better and ready to take action.

Now that sounds like the basis of a great retrospective.

Like the story of Christmas Carol, the basis of this retro is that of the past, present, and future.



Think of something from the past sprint, month, or year that you would like to “let go” and write down…

An Agile Christmas Carol Design

This is the time to look to the past. Work with the team to dig deep. What pain points did they have? When they look back on the year, is there any particular point(s) they wish they could forget? Have them write down these points. After reading through them, take some time to think of how they can do things differently in the future. Once complete, have the team member delete/erase the card. This lethargic experience can help put the past in the past.



Who has been naughty or nice? Write down the nice ones…

Now is the time for praise. The naughty or nice list is a classic story told about Santa Claus. He makes a list and checks it twice. He keeps track of who has been naughty or nice. Focus on the nice. Find the moments in the past sprint that made people happy. Did someone help out on a tricky issue? Was there a moment when someone brightened your day? Did another team step up to make life a little easier? Have the team write these down. Talk about how they helped. Look at the positives your team has going for them right now in the present.



All I want for this holiday season for our team is…

In this last section, think big. What actions can the team take to better their lives? Is there help from outside the team that would be beneficial? Does the team need all new laptops? Would additional team members help? Nothing is too big. Once you have written down and reviewed these wishes, discuss what can be done. Where can you ask for help? What do you have the power to control? Determine if there are next steps to be taken. Some of the big wishes may not be attainable at this time. That does not mean the team cannot take small steps to improve things.


As Scrooge steps out into the morning air after his ghostly visit, he takes action to right the wrongs of his past. He does not try to do it all at once. He takes small steps. Like Scrooge, the team needs to take small steps to make a long-term difference. As with all retrospectives, you want to come out of this one with action items. You can do action items in the short term to help achieve the goals of the retrospective.

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