Refreshing Your Retrospective With Story Cubes and Liberating Structures

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Refreshing Your Retrospective With Story Cubes and Liberating Structures

If your Sprint Retrospectives are garnering less excitement than usual, consider making some changes for fresh perspective.

· Agile Zone ·
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Can you sense the drop in energy when the retrospectives become boring? 

This article is based on one of the experimental retrospectives that I have facilitated using Rory’s Story Cubes and Liberating Structures by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless 

The Sprint Retrospective is a very important event in Scrum as this is one of the most crucial feedback loops for the entire system. I consider it the heart of the Scrum ecosystem as this is where you formally get an opportunity to meet and talk about improvements around your ways of working and agreements that bind the entire process together.  

Being a Scrum Master is like being a thermostat. We must recognize the drop in engagement and participation levels of teams and adjust the course to improve the overall experience. Every team goes through an inevitable drop in energy over a period of time. When you feel the energy drop in the retrospectives, then one of the most highly engaging and energetic ways to improve retrospectives is by using the story cubes. Story cubes possess the ability to connect with people on a visual-spatial intellectual level. 

How to Do a Story Cube Retrospection

Although there are a lot of ways out there, I have personalized it a bit.

Things You May Need 

  • A whiteboard
  • Markers
  • 9 cubes from the story cube set.
  • Sticky notes for “1-2-4-All.

 Image title


Create three columns on the board, like "Happy," "Sad," and "Action."

Let the team roll the dice and pick them up one at a time. Every dice will have an image on the surface. Let the team members talk about the experience from sprint which comes to their mind while looking at the image. Make a note on either the "Happy" or "Sad" list. Repeat this activity for all of the dice.

Now against each happy or sad item, have the team dot vote on what they want to pick up to improve for the next sprint (my recommendation is to pick just one or maximum two, depending on your timebox).

Now for every item that is selected run a “1-2-4-All” session.

How to Run a "1-2-4-All" Session

Let the team members brainstorm over the topic individually and make notes on a sticky note for a full minute. Repeat the same activity in pairs (exchange the ideas in a brief manner) for no more than two minutes.

Repeat the same activity in quartets for four minutes, and do it one final time with the entire group sharing and noting the most suitable solutions around the topic for five minutes.

 Note: you can customize the repetition based on your group size.

1-2-4-All instructions

Once you have run the 1-2-4-All for the selected item, you will have solid actionable items derived by the team to conclude the sprint retrospective.


I have facilitated quite a lot of retrospectives as a Scrum practitioner and from my experience, one of the best ways to conduct retrospectives is to keep changing the way you run it. On average, I recommend trying a new way every three sprints, which gives the team a sense of familiarity while simultaneously enabling them to learn new creative ways to do retrospectives.

Happy Retrospection!!

agile 2010, agile adoption, agile retrospective, liberating structures, retrospective, scrum, scrum framework

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