3D Speed Boat Retrospective game

Written by , in category Innovation Games & Gamestorming

8 June 2016

Innovation Games®

If you are into Innovation Games®, you probably know the Speed Boat game. This game can be used during your retrospective. I will not discuss this game now. You can read all about it on the site.

Speed Boat, a boat with many facets…

The advantage of the Speed Boat metaphor is that the game can be very useful in a lot of contexts. Indeed, our boat is appropriate to represent our development project (which does not advance for some reason…), our product, subject to criticisms and comments of its users, or the team in charge of bring agility to the organization.

How did I come to a 3D version?

In the case of the 3D Speed Boat you will create a lot more metaphors on top of the existing canvas, as Lego allows you to freely build and express the basic elements of a retro. We won’t bother you with a lot of Post-Its, only a few. But we will let you use a 3D model and your input will be expressed in all these metaphors.


We live in a 3D world, we are used to metaphors. We will remember these more than anything else and it let people think more about items.

For example: When you were young and you were sick. You went to the doctor with one of your parents. Now do you remember how sick you were? How much pain you had? Mostly not. But you will remember how the house of the doctor looked, how the waiting room looked,… Also we live in a world of metaphors, things that you can remember by visualizing them.

I like the use of Lego® during workshops and I like the Speed Boat game. So I thought why not combine them? With this in mind, I started drawing the game.

At first, the idea was that you just use some blue plates, a plate with an island on it, anchors, buoys, some rocks and plants. You create a path for your speed boat with the buoys, hang the 3 anchors behind the speed boat and then you wrote your impediments on post-its. These post-its are used to hang on anchors or the rocks and plants. Next you place the rocks and plants somewhere on the blue plates.  At the end the team chooses 3 impediments they will work on.

First Test Run


During the first test run, it was visible that this was double work. First you had to write down everything and then you had to place it on the board. Another thing that we encounterd was the practical fact that we only had a few rocks, plants and anchors. If we want to do something different there’s isn’t enough Lego® to build this.

Solution and the game mod itself

After the test runs, I went back to the drawing table, took a good look at all the feedback and did a total redesign of the 3D Speed Boat Mod.
I got more blue plates and 2 boxes of the Standard Lego® Serious Play® box. And last but not least some special blue plates, one with an island painted on it and 2 with a 3D islands.

3D Speed Boat material

One important thing before you begin. As a facilitator you don’t build anything upfront. Your team has to build everything. The only 2 things you can choose upfront are:

  1. Decide whether you want to use one of the pre-built speedboats or let your team build one. There are more than 2 speedboats, they can even choose to build a raft.
  2. Decide whether you want to use Lego® mini-figures or let your team build their own person or just don’t use anything to represent the team separately in the model.

Why these 2 choices? It depends on the time you have. If you are limited in time you can choose the pre-built items, if not it’s preferable to let them build everything, with all the benefits this holds.

Lifecycle of the 3D Speed Boat

First of all, let’s see a little about the lifecycle of the game. If you want your game to be a success, there are some guidelines created by Gamestorming you need to follow. They have created a nice shape with 3 states you can implement in your game so it becomes a success. The states are “Open-Explore-Close”. At Co-Learning, we have adapted the 3 states with 2 more. We added “Start” and “End”, as we think this will helps you more.

Start - Open - Explore - Close - End

Let’s explore the meaning of every state in our game

Start = Warm Up

Important is the stage setting. Team members must be in the mood.


Because as an adult, most of us are not used to playing with Lego® anymore. To have a switch in our mind to use metaphors.


Let the team members build small items. There are a lot of examples available. We will give you a few:

  • Simple openers
    • Animals
    • Mode of transportation
    • Tower
  • Medium break through
    • Your best friend
    • Your ideal team member
  • Complex ending
    • Fear
    • Anger

What you also can do is limit the pieces they can use. Before telling them what to build you let them pick for example 5 bricks and then you ask to build something.
Take 10 minutes for warming up. If you see that your team is very fast at getting in the mood you can stop faster but if you need some more time, do it. Be sure the people are in the perfect mood.

Open = Goal or stage setting

Now that we are warmed up, we can start with the first part: the stage setting. Let the team build the goal they are working towards. You can let them choose if they just want to build it or that they want to use a plate representing the island. I have 3 different island plates they can use.

If the goal is already known, because you’ve already done several sprints, you could skip this part. It is important though, to let the team still explain their goal, so they all remember it and link it to the metaphor.
Give your team 10 minutes for this.

Explore = Build and Improve

After we have set the goal, we can start with the most important part of the retrospective, as we will ask the team here to identify what drove them forward or what held them back during the previous sprint.


The team can decide whether they want to use the blue basic plates or not. But as the metaphor is a speedboat it would be nice to use them.

First let’s start with what drove them forward during the previous sprint. Each team member can build one or more things to visualize everything they can think about. When they have finished an item, let them place it on the blue plates and use the small post-its. On these post-its they can write down one word to explain what they have built.

After 10 minutes they do the same but now for what was holding them back as a team. Give them again 10 minutes for this.
Afterwards, they explain to the whole team what they have built. At the end take a picture of this setup.

3D Speed Boat during Explore phase

Close = Gathering the Info

Now that we have built everything, we want to see if we can improve something in our process. So let the team look at the structures they created that held them back. They pick up one item and while discussing they try to change the structure so that it isn’t holding them back anymore. They can do that by adding, removing, … pieces.

When done, they have to explain this, write down what action came out of this on a post-it. Place the post-it near the model and take a picture. Put the post-it aside.
Now they repeat it with another structure of the model. For each round give them 3 minutes. At the end you have a list of improvement actions.

3D Speed Boat during closing phase

End = Results/Action Points

Yes, almost finished. Now take all the improvement actions and let the team prioritize them. When finished, we have our prioritized list of improvement actions. Take the top 3 actions on which the team will work during the next sprint.


As you can see we don’t use post-its anymore on a flipchart, wall, … to write down everything. We just use visualization, metaphors and a 3D model to explain everything. Only a very few post-its are used to record a few key words. I also created a cheat card about the 3D Speedboat. Print it out, cut, fold it and glue both sides together and use it for your ease.

To help you with the question “Which material do I need for this?”, I’ve put a basic list of Lego® materials I have in my 3D Speedboat box.

Use this speedboat mod freely at work to provide hours of fun with your colleagues. If you want, I’d be happy if you sent me some pictures of using this Speedboat game mod. And feedback, improvements are always welcome.

For tips & tricks on facilitating a Lego® Serious Play® workshop, keep an eye on this blog!

Speed Boat: ©Innovation Games® 2007 Luke Hohmann.
3D Speed Boat: ©2016 Sven Cipido

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