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.