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The Mind retro

(Anders dan de rest van de website content zijn de retrospectives in het Engels, omdat ze ook gepubliceerd zijn als Pulse op LinkedIn)

The Mind retrospective
Playing makes learning fun. This also applies to strengthen a scrum team. You probably have attended a Lego session or two, where coloured bricks are used to build a stronger team. At NIPON – a Dutch training agency that offers practical agile team training – cooking is used as a metaphor. Their scrum cooking sessions are a combination of learning by playing, teamplay, excellent food and a lot a fun ( In this retrospective is use the clever and simple card game ‘The Mind’ to give the team members an insight in their communication skills. In a very relaxed way 🙂

Playing and learning

In this retrospective, the team is divided into two groups of a maximum of four members. While one team plays the card game The Mind, the others watch the players. Their task is to observe the winning and losing qualities of a teams communication.

The Mind

This card game is brilliantly simple. The core is a batch of cards numbered 1 to 100. Each player gets a hand of shuffled cards. The goal is to put cards on the table in the correct ascending order. The team works in this together; they either fail or win as a team.

There are 12 levels. Each level stands for the amount of cards in your hand. So in level 1 each players gets one card, in level 12 each of them gets 12 cards.

To make the game more achievable ánd fun, there are two special cards. These are rewarded in specific levels. The Life card with a jumping rabbit gives the team an extra life. The falling star (which looks more like a ninja star) can be played as a preventive safety line. It is played only by team consensus.


·      A set of The Mind playing cards (White Goblin Games, about 10 euro)

·      A large whiteboard with two column (DO / DON’T DO)

·      Some pens/markers and sticky notes (post-it)


·      Briefly inform the team about the goal of the retrospective

·      Make two teams A + B (or let them choose a proper team name)

·      Explain how The Mind is played (in the two different game play varieties)

·      Instruct the observing team to watch the gameplay and note on post-it’s the moments that they find vital

Game play group A > first round (5 min)

·      Explain the basic rule in this first game play: Communication is limited to gestures and using the sentences: ‘I think it is/is not my turn’, ‘I think it is/is not your turn’ and ‘I’m still far from it’.

·      Start with level 1, shuffle the cards and give each player one card

·      Let the game commence

·      When the first level is reached, advance to the next level (2 cards)…

·      … until a level is not been achieved

Game play group B > first round (5 min)

·      Repeat the game from level 1 with the other team

·      Let the former team observe the gameplay

Game play > second round (5 min)

·      Repeat the game with the same rules, OR…

·      … take things to the next level and add a new rule: talking is not allowed

·      Repeat the gameplay with both teams (including the observing part)

Post mortem

After the game play, briefly discuss the insights. This can be done in a live conversation or for example by sticking post-its’ to a white board. Area’s to focus on are, amongst others, non-verbal communication, being wavering or convincing, receiving and giving feedback, coaching each other and taking the lead. Translate the insights to concrete tasks for both team and scrum master.


It’s is no surprise that this retrospective is first of all about awareness. In this case the key insight is that there is an intuitive aspect to communication in a team. In other words: knowing your team members character is vital for proper team work. Another lesson learned is that listening to words NOT said might be as valuable as the spoken word.

Chances are, your team likes the game. We had serious fun with it! So you might as well hand the game over to them so they can play it whenever a short break is needed.

Scrum you soon!

Gerjon Zomer, scrum master

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Gerjon Zomer