The movie retrospective is a retrospective that has a fun component that will help you in getting to know your teammates better and will help you in making the next sprint better. In the movie retrospective, the team has to pick a movie that describes the last sprint and create their own movie to describe the perfect sprint.

I hosted the movie retrospective while we were several months into working full remote due to the Coronavirus. Since working fully remote can be tiring, and since the team is working on a project they don’t really like, I decided it was time for a retrospective that has a bit more of the “fun” factor, to keep the spirit high!

The movie retrospective format

The team has to describe the sprint in the form of a movie. Ask the team to think about the last sprint, and pick a movie they think describes the last sprint. There are no limitations to which movies they can pick. Hollywood, Bollywood, or even an unfamiliar local art movie. As long as it is a movie, it works for the movie retrospective. Ask the team if they can provide the following:

  • The picture (and title) of the movie
  • What genre is the movie?
  • Why does this movie describe the last sprint?

The goal is to have a light and fun discussion inside the team, this part is used as setting the stage. Did they pick a superhero movie? Which hero is inside the team, which villain did we encounter during the sprint? If all goes well the team should have some fun. I mean how can you NOT have fun when someone compares you to Spiderman or that difficult stakeholder to Dr. Evil or Mr. Bean?

If your team is distributed don’t ignore the cultural differences. We noticed that some of our Indian team members did not know the A-team or Jackass for example. While our Dutch members had no idea about Bollywood. This can be a good moment to watch a trailer and do some bonding time! I can recommend using IMDB for this purpose. If all goes well, you should have a list of a few movies you can watch you never know existed!

fun requested meme
Captain Holt from Brooklyn 99 described it perfectly

When you have gathered all movies, genres, and reasons it is time to put them all in a blender. Create a movie that contains the average of all shared movies. This will be the team representation of the sprint. Discuss the genre and the plotline. The key here is to have some fun. Don’t go for the boring option. For example, if the movie is a superhero movie, what would be the name of the villain?

Now it is time to put on your best future teller hat. Ask the team to pick a movie to describe the next sprint, and the next sprint is going to be perfect. Repeat the entire process when picking movies to describe the last sprint. When everyone has described their perfect sprint, you put them all in a blender, and come up with a summary movie for the perfect sprint.

movie retrospective
Reasons have been anonymized.

When you have the movie for the perfect sprint, ask the team how it was different from the last sprint. The difference between the current sprint and the perfect sprint is a good way to highlight action points.

For example, the perfect sprint has no production incidents. But during the movie retrospective, several team members mentioned the last sprint had quite a few distractions in the form of incidents. This is a good starting point for discussing with the team how to reduce the number of incidents and what improvements the team can make.

Conclusion

In my eyes, the movie retrospective is a perfect retrospective to have some fun and do a retrospective that is a bit different than normal.

I would keep the following things in mind:

  • A creative retrospective is not a good fit for everyone, if you notice someone is struggling, do not push it. It is okay to not be super funny, or know a perfect fit. As long as they are having fun.
  • I notice that retrospectives which are fun, usually result in better results than super serious ones.
  • Don’t ignore cultural differences in distributed teams. Watch a trailer to make sure everyone understand the movie.

The movie retrospective is part of the retrospective challenge I did in 2020. For the conclusion check the retrospective conclusion post. In case you don’t want to miss another retrospective, you can sign up for the newsletter and get an e-mail when a new retrospective blog is released!