Escape Room Retrospective: Uncover Team Strengths and Weaknesses

“We just finished an escape room, now what?”

Sure, you now know how to read morse code and have a cool printed relic to keep on your desk, but what else can you and your team take home from an escape room experience? How can you measure the team building that took place? How can you use your team’s success–or failure–to positively impact your real life goals and deadlines back in the office?

Ready the meeting

First things first, set up this discussion as an open and positive one. Ensure that all team members feel valued and important regardless of their contributions during game play. This experience was never about who solved the most puzzles or figured out the one that stumped everyone else; rather, teams learn how to work together effectively by clearly communicating, taking stock of individual skill sets, and maintaining operational organization.

Big Picture

Now that we’ve gathered everyone together, perhaps in person or perhaps virtually, use this article as a guide to discuss with your team the communal strengths and weaknesses that were revealed during gameplay. To start, we can reflect generally on how everything went:

  • What did your group do amazingly?

  • What was brought to light as an area for improvement?

  • What primarily contributed to the successes you achieved?

  • What about the failures you faced, even if temporary?

Now we have the big picture. Here are some primary factors that contribute to a team’s success you can dive into

1. People

After all, a team is a collective of individuals working towards a common goal, be it a product, feature, aspect of the company, or even the entire company itself. The individuals on your team define what your team can achieve. The collective is greater than the sum, but it is still the culmination of individual contributions that gives a team its strength and ability to solve problems by creating effective solutions.

  • Where there any individuals whose egos or biases affected the team as a whole?

  • Were other players hindered by their own or teammates’ actions?

  • Were teammates supportive of one another?

  • Was everyone equally invested in the team’s success?

  • Did the team foster an open line of communication, such that individuals felt comfortable asking for help?

There are many types of personalities that emerge in an escape room, and it is important for teams to consider the individual and group contributions to the entire escape room experience. While this was only a game, the time pressure and non-linear puzzle presentation reflects a real workplace environment, with deadlines and tasks coming in faster than they can be addressed. It can be helpful to consider everyone’s role in this micro environment, so that workplace dynamics can be as effective as possible.

2. Collaboration

Now that everyone has reflected on their role within the group, it may be helpful to discuss team dynamics:

  • Were there any behaviors that the entire team eventually adopted as a helpful tactic for keeping track of puzzles or sharing information?  

  • What team behaviors did you notice as being particularly productive or counterproductive?

  • When people got stuck on a puzzle did they abandon it or hand it off to another set of people?

Continued effort is equally important to the solving of the puzzle itself. If a team continually abandons a puzzle, even if it is eventually solved, there will be significant repeated work. On the other hand, teams that ensure handoffs are well informed will also be maximizing their team efficiency by avoiding repeated work.

3. Coordination

Finally, now that you have reflected on individual and group behaviors, what can you say about how all of these attributes came together? Having a room of highly coordinated individuals depends not just on the investment and attitude of each person, but also the team’s ability to coordinate these behaviors into productive actions.

  • Did team members consistently know what other individuals were working on?

  • How long after a puzzle was solved did the rest of the team become aware?

Hopefully these guided questions naturally lead to more thorough discussions, tapping into your team’s specific goals and behaviors. The main takeaway of your retrospective should answer the question: How did the team organize members around the problems faced in the room, and how can everyone take these insights and apply them to team dynamics in the workplace? Glad we got to spend some quality time together at Reason, now go back and kick some serious butt with your team in the real world!