Common ailments & cures
A collection of common problems which occur with retrospectives and suggestions how to resolve them. Generated by running a Retrospective Surgery.
If you have an ailment that is not covered please add it at the bottom and hopefully someone will have an answer for you.
Ailment: Actions not captured / No obvious record or review of previous retrospective findings
- Review the actions from the previous retrospectives at the beginning of each retrospective.
- Capture/Document actions & follow up by Scrum Master
- Maintain backlog and have it visible for everybody in the team (e.g. on the Task Board)
- Focus on last sprint only
- Make someone responsible and accountable for each action.
- Put the actions somewhere visible in the team space for example to create team building spirit
- Recognize and deal with recurring actions
- Reduce actions to a manageable number
- More suggestions in Having Actions Done from Retrospectives
Ailment: Too many actions
- Apply velocity to actions, track progress and only take on what velocity dictates
- Try Plan of Action Retrospective Plan
- Focus on the vital few actions, only choose one action
Ailment: Unjustified actions
- Use root cause analysis
- Ensure actions are suggestions from the team and prioritised by them.
- Suggests Biased chair - see cures for that symptom
Ailment: Not having the right people in the retrospective
- Invite people early
- Pick a time that suits everyone
- Have separate retrospectives for tech team & wider team
Ailment: Biased chair / Agenda hijacking
- Feedback to chair and escalate if necessary
- Rotate chair
- Coach chair on “Agile” principles
- Let team choose an un-biased chair
- Recognize and deal with blaming
Ailment: Lack of preparation / Forgetting what’s happened
- Compensate in the meeting by having a good time line (Ed. help everyone remember what happened?)
- Prepare - personal/team log
- Remind participants to think of good and bad points
- Reminder before the meeting
- Use Retrospective Exercises from Retrospective Exercises Toolbox or Retr-O-Mat
Ailment: People not speaking up/shy
- Chair/facilitator needs to create the right environment
- Suggest box/amnesty
- Try different games which are more suited to retiring types
- Start the retrospective with a warm-up exercise to create an atmosphere where team members can be open and honest about what has happened
Ailment: Retrospective actions and tips not shared with other teams
- Rotating facilitators
- Shared retrospective blog
- Retrospective “lurking”
- Cross team collaboration needed
- Do a Retrospective of Retrospectives
Ailment: People taking things personally
- Refer to The Prime Directive
Ailment: Voting system may result in valid issues not being addressed
- Non-addressed issues get rolled over (& keep votes?)
- Themed retrospectives
- Encourage team to get on well so they empathise more with issues affecting minority
- Vary the retro format (e.g. no voting)
Ailment: Suffering from 'Group Think'
- Have a Devil's Advocate or Angel's Advocate
- Try De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats Retrospective
- Recognize and deal with passiveness
Ailment: Lack of engagement
- Try new plans or tips such as the ones on this wiki!
Ailment: Too much focus on negatives
Facilitators need to know about retrospective smells: signals that something might be going wrong in your retrospective. The Retrospective Smells Cards help you to recognize smells and act upon them by solving the problem or mitigating the impact.