Retrospective Fortune Cookies

I learned about Adam Weisbart’s retrospective fortune cookies via Twitter. He kindly sent me a box of them for our team to try.

Vince and Lisa choose their cookies

We’ve been doing sprint retrospectives every two weeks for eight years, so it’s always good to get out of our rut and try something new! We each chose a cookie, and took turns reading the “fortune” inside, which was a thought-provoking question. The first question was “What could the ScrumMaster do to be more effective?” This discussion led to an idea for a new Big Visible Chart – a wall on which the SM would show the stories she and the Product Owner are preparing for upcoming sprints. We also decided to try going over requirements for each user story with not only the product owner, but the primary stakeholder for each story, which the SM will ident

Lori looks excited about her fortune


All of the “fortune” questions provoked good discussions, and ones we wouldn’t have had otherwise (we had already done our standard retrospective before digging into the fortune cookies.) For example, “How would you improve our sprint review?” Ours could certainly use improvement, but we never talk about it. I think our next sprint review will be better!

One of the questions puzzled us, “Were our Artifacts helpful for this sprint? Could we improve them? How?” We weren’t sure what “Artifacts” referred to. But the question led us into thinking of a better way to note requirements changed after coding begins, and ensure the developers are informed of all changes.

A cookie for our remote team member

The fortune cookie concept posed a challenge for Nanda, our teammate in India. We had to open his cookie and read it for him. While we were fighting over who should get to eat his cookie, the cookie got dropped and shattered on the carpet. Having fun as well as thinking of experiments to improve made the retrospective fortune cookies a big success!


(Thanks to my teammate Mike Thomas for taking some of these action photos with our team camera).

5 comments on “Retrospective Fortune Cookies

  1. Lisa, in retrospective, the following need to figure out a way to not drop cookies! 🙂

  2. Lisa,

    Thanks so much for the fantastic blog post! I’m glad that the cookies worked out so well for you! Other teams have been using them all of the world with great results too (I just shipped to Finland).

    In regards to the “artifacts” question: That question refers to the Product Backlog, the Sprint Backlog, and the Burndown Chart.


    Adam Weisbart | Twitter @weisbart | Blog http://weisbart.com

  3. these fortune cookies are an awesome idea!
    and the picture of the laptop with the fortune cookie on it really killed me. poor Nanda, so close, and yet so far.

  4. Fantastic! Such a simple and effective idea, to defocus streamlined discussions.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this with us Lisa, I can see this being useful, even in other formats, e.g. a box full of questions, from which you get to pick one out.

  5. Darren, I think Esther Derby has a card deck of questions like that, we just found them and are going to try them too.

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