September 14, 2022

Retrospective: Emoji Style

Get creative with your sprint retrospectives and see the results! Add some fun with emojis and experience an engaging approach to evaluating your team's progress and success. Learn how to use the world's fastest-growing language to improve your Scrum framework.

Get creative with your retrospective and see the results using the world’s fastest-growing language – emojis!

Within the Scrum framework, feedback is essential to any successful project. This process doesn’t have to be formal and can involve a 🤩👾💃.

In August 2013, the word ’emoji’ was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary as “a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion.” Emojis allow users to add emotion and tone to their typed messages, which also helps the receiver understand them better. When used within a retrospective, the emoji is a valuable tool in facilitating self-expression and, of course, a little fun!

A retrospective is a meeting held after a sprint that allows team members to express themselves to improve things in the future based on those learnings and conversations.

Sprint retrospectives are usually facilitated by the who will steer the meeting towards self-expression and a set of goals. Our Scrum Retrospective approach evaluates how your team feels by using emojis as an engaging, fun way of expression.

How it works:

Round one: Preparation

Pick a player: Let each team member associate themselves with an emoji

Define emojis based on common sprint reflections and categories

Here are a few examples:

You can also predefine common blockers or special characters:

Round two: Let the games begin

Select an emoji that shows how successful you found the Sprint – Now, let each team member select 3-6 emojis that best reflect the following: How did they feel about the Sprint, what went well in the Sprint, what didn’t go well in the Sprint.

  1. The Feels: Choose an emoji from the feels category to identify how you felt about the Sprint.
  2. Smiles for miles: Select an emoji from the smile of miles category that illustrated what went well during the Sprint.
  3. Stranger Danger: Select an emoji from the Stranger Danger category that  defined what didn’t go well.

After that, each member will have a chance to unpack their chosen emojis.

Round Three: Light Bulb Reflections 💡

Look at your light bulb: Choose an icon from the light bulb category that indicates how you would improve the Sprint. These ideas can then be unpacked further, leading to group discussions on how to improve future sprints.

At the end of this retrospective, you will have gained the following insights in a creative, visual way:

  • How the team felt about the previous Sprint.
  • What went right.
  • What can be improved.
  • How you can nurture a positive culture and environment.
  • Evaluate the past to define the future.

Reflections are easy when individuals enjoy the experience and are given new, engaging ways to connect and express themselves. Emojis can be an exciting new way of communication that enriches the experience for everyone involved.

Retrospectives are a breeze when Scrum Masters can make team members feel valued, heard, and motivated to engage in the next Sprint with gusto. Including emojis as part of the strategy puts the team at ease by bringing in creativity and a new type of discourse that takes you away from the everyday business jargon.

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Shahnee Stockigt
Marketing Manger
Based in
Johannesburg, ZA

Shahnee is a Scrum Master at JustSolve. She is a creative entrepreneur and has a background in strategic marketing. When not experiencing her travelling adventures, Shahnee is an active greeny aspiring to save Mother Earth one plastic straw at a time.

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