Common ailments & cures

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A collection of common problems which occur with retrospectives and suggestions how to resolve them.

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
  • 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
  • Reduce actions to a manageable number

Ailment: Too many actions

Cures:

  • Apply velocity to actions, track progress and only take on what velocity dictates
  • Try Plan Of Action Retrospective Plan
  • 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

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

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

Ailment: Retrospective actions and tips not shared with other teams

Cures:

  • Rotating facilitators
  • Shared retrospective blog
  • Retrospective “lurking”
  • Cross team collaboration needed

Ailment: People taking things personally

Cures:

  • Refer to The Prime Directive

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:

  • Have a Devil's Advocate
  • Try De Bono's Six Hats Thinking

Ailment: Lack of engagement

Cures:

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

Ailment: Too much focus on negatives

Cures:

  • Try the Appreciative Retrospective Plan