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Retrospective Exercise: Mr Squiggle

I’ve pondered on a question from the last Retro Gathering where someone asked how do you prompt people to tell their story by starting them with a common seed. I’ve thought about a couple of them since then, and got to run a new exercise with some people at the Calgary Mini Away Day we just had (thanks all for participating!) This exercise was inspired by the childhood TV show in Australia, of the same name (Mr Squiggle). Kids would literally send in a set of squiggles to the show to be put in front of a blackboard, where the main character, a puppet with a pencil on his nose, would turn them into complete drawings. See this link if you want to know more.

What is it: A variant of the Art Gallery exercise except using a common drawing to start the creative juices.

Time needed: 10 minutes

Mr Squiggle Template

What you need:

  • An index card per participant prepared in the same way (see below)
  • A marker pen

How to run it:

  • Before the retrospective, prepare each index card by drawing a set of symbols on it (I started with two lines and a circle)
  • Hand out the cards
  • Explain that you all have the same set of symbols and you would like everyone to spend the next five minutes turning it into a picture that represents the state of the project
  • After five minutes, ask participants to share their story with the group

Tips for facilitating Mr Squiggle

  • Ask participants to avoid writing words as this exercise is meant to be a visual, creative process.
  • Provide other colours and markers to help with the creative process.

Summarising:
Mr Squiggle brings a different take on the Art Gallery picture at demonstrating how a simple set of symbols can be converted into completely different stories when explained by participants.

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