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What is a Carnival Retrospective?

Smartpedia: A carnival retrospective is a recap of a sprint that uses carnival as a theme to improve teamwork in terms of interactions, processes and tools.

Carnival Retrospective – a retrospective with a motto

“To plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness” – this is how the Scrum Guide defines the purpose of a retrospective. It is about reviewing in the Scrum team how the last sprint went in terms of individuals, interactions, processes, tools and its Definition of Done. A “funny” variant of this review is the Carnival Retrospective.

The Carnival Retrospective – which, depending on the region, can also be called Fastnacht, Fasching or Mardi Gras Retrospective – is a retrospective that has a motto: Carnival (or Fastnacht, Fasching or Mardi Gras). Accordingly, it is about discussing ways to increase quality and effectiveness with the help of questions that have a connection to the so-called “5th season”:

  • Check-in: Which group costume would we choose for the past sprint? And: Would we choose a common costume or individually different costumes? Or: What would we title our carnival speech?
  • What happy, beautiful or positive moments did we have within and as a team and which of them would we like to repeat?
  • Which moments or situations would we like to hide from or avoid in the future?
  • What things do we have in our hands to strengthen nice things and weaken unpleasant ones?

The sense and nonsense of retrospectives with a motto

Most product and software developments produce a lot of work and take a lot of time. Accordingly, the number of sprints, reviews and retrospectives increases rapidly. Motto retros offer the chance to address serious topics in a fun way. They offer the opportunity to approach a topic from a different perspective: Does the team see itself as a lion and thus as the king of the beasts, or rather as a mouse trying to survive in the jungle? Is the motto of the carnival speech “Titanic” or “Around the world in 7 days”?

Motto retrospectives loosen up the togetherness and as long as the team enjoys such special exchange formats, various occasions can be used accordingly:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Halloween
  • Labour Day
  • Christmas

If a motto retrospective is initiated by the Scrum Master, he should of course make sure that the team members are open to such variations and enjoy them. It is neither about “making fools of oneself” nor about belittling work done or problems. In addition, participation should not be psychologised; the fun in the exchange is in the foreground. And this is independent of whether it is carnival, Shrovetide or Mardi Gras.

Carnival Retrospective - a retrospective with a motto

Impulse to discuss:

How important is it that all participants in the retrospective can engage with the motto?

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At Leadventure you will find a beautiful visualisation for the Carnival Retrospective.

Here you can find a free retrospective guide to download.

And here you will find additional information from our Smartpedia Section:

Smartpedia: What are Scrum Events about?

What are Scrum Events about?

Smartpedia: What is Groupthink?

What is Groupthink?