Boring retrospectives – part 12 : Story Oscars



In this edition of Boring Retrospectives (and how to prevent them), I will explain the Story Oscars exercise.

It’s an exercises I found on Corinna Baldauf’s great website on retrospective exercises.

The exercise can be used in the data gathering phase of a retrospective, when the team is trying to remember what happened in the previous period. If you’re bored of doing the Timeline exercise over and over again, this will prove to be a worthy replacement.

Here’s how we ran it:

The team can nominate user stories for the Oscars. We have 3 different categories:

  • Best story
  • Most annoying story
  • Most technically complex story

Each team member is only allowed to nominate one user story per category.  A nomination is made by writing down the story on a post-it and explaining it briefly when putting it on the whiteboard.

When all team members have finished their nominations, the voting starts.  Each team member has a number of dots (in our case 3), which he can distribute amongst the candidate stories.

Finally the facilitator counts the votes and announces the 3 winners. For each winner, we discuss in-depth what has happened, why it has won, what we can learn or improve.

During this discussion the facilitator records objectively and guides the team to SMART actions.


Although this puts the focus on the content of the iteration, indirectly we started to discuss the process and how to improve it. It felt like a fun, energizing exercise which gave us new insights thanks to it’s playful association to the Oscars and the different angle in which we approached process improvement.

Lightweight exercises like this feel right when the team needs a little break from heavy process focused meetings. So instead of slowing down or skipping retrospectives, you can keep the energy up by choosing appropriate exercises like this one.

photo credit: *Pasha* cc

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.


  1. Hi Nick,

    I really like your “Boring Retrospectives” series 🙂

    Would you be interested to present a session about retrospectives, KanBan, or wathever you like at Agile Tour Brussels (31 Oct 2014) ? We would be honoured to have you !

    Just let me know,


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