Coincidence is a funny thing. Have you noticed that some topic/issue/concept/activity will come up in your life, then for a while you bump into it everywhere? Happens to me all the time. Lately, I've been bumping into new ideas for check-in activities, and reminders about familiar ones.

Pete Roessler posted on his blog about an activity he's used: "Check-In Activity for Agile Retrospectives". I like that it provides a simple and fast reminder about why the team holds these meetings.

At the recent Agile Open Northwest full day board meeting, we used the McCarthy's Core Protocol Check-In style with a few twists. We allowed ourselves more than just the four emotions–Mad, Sad, Glad, Afraid–and, since we hadn't seen each other for 5 months, we included other pertinent information about our status. The Check-in went quickly around the table and prepared us for the day's work.

In May, I wrote about "Project Weather" a way of checking in that also begins a bit of data gathering about how the iteration went. You can make checking in more fun by looking for other themes that with current relevance to the team. If someone on the team just bought a new car, ask everyone what kind of car reminds them most of the last iteration. In the summer try, "if this iteration had been a picnic, what was the meal like?" (Answers might include: favorite dishes, ants all over everything, made in the shade, rained out...) During holidays, incorporate holiday themes; e.g.,

  • what are you most thankful for in the last sprint?
  • if this iteration was a christmas tree ornament, what kind was it?
  • what expression would a pumpkin wear if it encountered this iteration? (you could draw this one on round sticky notes)
  • if we were a super bowl team during this iteration, what team were we? etc. etc.

Make the theme fit the holidays and special events from your culture or community, and make sure it's generic enough that everyone on your team can answer. (For example, I'm not sure I'd know how to make an analogy about the super bowl teams.)

What other short Check-ins have your teams liked? Please share your ideas in the comments.