The remote work age has proven you can’t underestimate the power of warm human relationships. Agile practices basically rely on people’s ability to communicate well. And the retrospective is one of the most valuable meetings where people talk, share their concerns and ideas about how to make the work process better.

We believe that the best way to communicate well is to build the safe atmosphere in the team so that people feel their opinions matter. But how to do that?

Timbo suggests several practices that help people to feel each other’s mood at the start of the meeting — these exercises help to warm up, hence called icebreakers. Let’s see how each of it can add value to your sprint retrospective.

One word

One word widget

Pretty simple yet powerful as it describes how each team member feels at this very moment. It can be any word of any sense in any language, the only rule is to enter the first thing that comes to your mind. As people keep adding their associations, you will see a cloud of team’s mood. You can diversify this exercise by asking the team to refer to a specific event, practice, task, concern or general mood of the sprint. You can also ask your teammates to comment on the words they see on the screen and try guessing why this or that word was added. Talking through the associations helps to understand deeper feelings that sometimes are hard to work with.


Weather widget

Nice and easy one that also requires working with associations. You ask your teammates to choose which type of the weather is close to their emotional state at the moment when the sprint has finished. We suggest four weather types that can relate to different emotional states — gloomy, stormy, breezy and sunny. This exercise is aimed at inspecting the personal feelings and emotional state purely. It reveals people’s real emotions safely as Timbo’s anonymity feature accelerates the building process of a trustful atmosphere in the team.

How do you feel

How do you feel widget

The simplest and the quickest way to break the ice and reveal people’s mood. There will be no associations, just a quick selection of the mood you relate to the most (wondering, happy, exhausted, cool, confused or shocked). No one forbids you from selecting multiple mood types — we’re all complex creatures after all. There’s also a possibility to add post-its in case the team wants to open up on their choice of emoji so you can make a quick team morale check.

Icebreakers help your teammates to get a warm start and safe atmosphere, the more sincere you are the more beneficial the meeting will be. Try different approaches to find the best one for your team!

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