Time: 80 minutes for 5 participants

Requirements: sticky notes, IndexCards and felt-pens


Agile Bowling - preperationPrepare a space for every single participant. You can use FlipCharts or use a dedicated wall-space:

Agile Bowling SetUp

Be sure you have enough Sticky Notes available and Markers or felt-pens as well.

Start the Game

Ask Participants ‘Regarding the last Sprint, what would I like to change in the next Sprint?’ Create 20 Ideas/Topics within a strict TimeBox of 5 minutes. Use one StickyNote for each Idea/Topic (5 min)

Agile Bowling - create topicsWhy 20 Topics at least? This sounds challenging. The reason for this challenge is quite simple – Participants need to do a real Brainstorming and be creative. If you want to be creative and collect as much Ideas as possible you’re not allowed to judge on an Idea as it come up. If you start to judge your Ideas during creating Ideas you kill Creativity! Write down everything as it pop up in your mind!

Let Participants do this in silence!

By forcing yourself to come up with 20 Ideas/Topics in a short TimeBox, you put your internal critic on hold and write everything down, including the obvious and weak. The first third will be the same old Ideas. The second third will be more interesting and the last third will show more insights, curiosity and complexity. (Cracking Creativity by Michael Michalko)

After this ‘Blue Sky thinking’ regarding change, give Participants a TimeBox of 3 minutes to prioritize their Ideas. (3 min)

Let Participants write down their 3-Top-Ideas, having the highest Value, on IndexCards – each Idea on one Card. (2 min)

Start Bowling

Ask a volunteer to start the Agile Bowling. The Volunteer read aloud her Idea/Topic with the highest value and let her give a short comment on that – TimeBox (1 min)

Now, give all other Participants a TimeBox of 3 minutes to create at least 10 effects – question: ‘If we change this Idea, what effects will have that to our Team?’

Write down every effect on one single StickyNote! (3 min)

During this TimeBox, let the Volunteer post her Idea/Topic on the Wall. Make sure their is enough space for the upcoming StickyNotes!

Agile Bowling step 1Now, let Participants post their StickyNotes with the effects below the posted IndexCard. When all effects are posted, let them read aloud the effects and let them remove all duplicates!

Make a dot-voting on the effects, every Participant has 3 dots. Let them dot-vote on the effect with the highest value for the Team.

Write down the count of all effects on an extra StickyNote and post it under all the other StickyNotes. Below the count, post the effect with the most dots, as this is the effect with the highest value for the Team. (6 min)

Agile Bowling step 2Now, repeat this Agile Bowling with every Participant. Make sure that every Participant has a unique Idea/Topic – that’s the reason why People choosed 3 top-ideas with the highest value!

After finishing Agile Bowling with all Participants, you can calculate the score. For calculating a score for a Participant, multiply the count of effects with the count of dots on the effect with the highest value.

The Participant with the top-score wins a bar of chocolate.Agile Bowling step 3

Winning a bar of chocolate is just for fun – it has nothing to do with the overall outcome!!!

At the end, ask every Participant to take their effect-StickyNote with the highest value for the Team and let them make this effect happen in the upcoming sprint.

Agile Bowling step 4


Make a debriefing of this Retrospective and let Participants give you Feedback on the exercise.

Participants may feel exhausted, as it is really challenging to be creative.

As I did this Retrospective with a Team in Germany, the points on the following picture are in german. Read the translation below!

Agile Bowling Debriefing

  • strung out
  • exhausted
  • creative
  • productive
  • inspired
  • happy
  • motivated
  • guilty conscience about using so much StickyNotes

The Feedback of the Team was awesome. There was just one negative point as some People had a guilty conscience about using so much StickyNotes!


You can use Agile Bowling also as Empiric Experience, just modify the questions! In addition, you can play more than just one round of Agile Bowling, depending how much time is available!