Rory Story Cubes – Once Upon a Time…

Sharing is good

I love the idea of teams creating something that represents their work, feelings, accomplishments, and challenges. It’s a great way to close the laptops, get everyone engaged, have some fun, and end up with cool and deep insights. Recently I came across a number of articles about using Rory Story Cubes in various ways in Sprint retrospectives. I’m not going to re-write those articles (links below), but I did love the idea so much that I bought three different sets for my toolbox. The concept is simple…

  • Take a 9 cube set of Rory’s Story Cubes such as Original, Actions or Voyages.
  • Give them a good shake.
  • Roll them out, and start storytelling!

The good news is that there’s an app for that!  The Rory Story Cubes app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

My biggest challenge was to apply this concept to my teams, which are distributed with team members in different locations and in different companies.

During an Experiment Day (slack time built in to gift time to free the mind) a few of us got together to figure out how to make this work for our teams. It started with us playing with the physical cubes a few times to get the hang of it and observe our behaviors (and disturb the Experiment Day folks coding away in the same space). We decided that it could work if and only if we had a clean way to post the pics and let the team collaborate with everyone concurrently adding captions and moving the pics around until it felt right to all.

I had already found that there is a very good Rory Story Cubes app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android. So we took a screenshot of the story cubes from the iPhone app and cropped it into nine smaller pics. That got us closer.

Our bigger challenge was to find the collaboration space. For that we ended up on free website called (because it was not blocked by the security gods). I posted the nine cropped pictures of the cube faces and had everyone log into our shared team board on Linoit. It worked perfectly! Once the pictures were in roughly the right order we started adding captions and rearranging.

It was a blast! When the story writing was complete we took a break, read our masterpiece aloud, then started adding color-coded virtual post-its for things that could have worked better and things that worked great.

Articles on using Rory Story Cubes for retrospectives:

  1. Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’: Using Story Cubes to jazz up team retrospectives
  2. Rory Cubes for the Sprint Retrospective
  3. How to Facilitate an Agile Retrospective Using “Rory Story Cubes”