Common ailments & cures

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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

Cures:

  • 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

Cures:

  • 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

Cures:

  • 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

Cures:

  • Invite people early
  • Pick a time that suits everyone
  • Have separate retrospectives for tech team & wider team

Ailment: Biased chair / Agenda hijacking

Cures:

  • 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

Cures:

  • 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

Cures:

  • 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

Cures:



Ailment: People taking things personally

Cures:


Ailment: Voting system may result in valid issues not being addressed

Cures:

  • 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'

Cures:


Ailment: Lack of engagement

Cures:

  • Try new plans or tips such as the ones on this wiki!

Ailment: Too much focus on negatives

Cures:


General:

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.