What are you missing?
“My team is having retrospectives every sprint, but they are a complete waste of time.”
“We keep saying the same things each time, but nothing changes.”
“We stopped doing retros because they weren’t working.”
I’ve heard these comments or similar comments many times. Remember, the retrospective is a mechanism for focusing on how to improve the way your team operates. I find that many teams are either going through the motions or have quit retros all together. When I dig into what’s happening (or not) I usually find there are some key missing pieces. There are two key missing pieces that need to be integral to your every retro. The first is, the retro that doesn’t result in an action or two that the team agrees to take is like serving a delicious meal that nobody can eat! The retro is unfulfilling to say the least. The team should agree upon an action or two that they will take over the course of the next sprint. The second piece to that is following up on the action(s) at the very next retro. We should be holding ourselves accountable to do what we said we would do AND reflect on whether the action was effective for solving the problem we intended. In order to have accountability you might consider specifying who, what, and when for each action and don’t be afraid to track progress visibly.
Reflect on your retros. Do you decide on action and follow up on that agreed upon action? Start there.
Questions you can also ask yourself and your team:
“Are we focusing on things we can control?”
“Are we designing sound experiments to test our hypothesis on how to make things better?”
“Are we trying to change too much at once?”
“Are we giving our experiments enough run time? Too much run time?”
Don’t give up. Keep improving your retros and keep improving your team!