Rob's guide to effective retrospectives
Be well prepared
Facilitation is a skill
Rotate the facilitator role
A big smell I regularly see and hear about is it being one person's job (usually a scrum master or project manager) to facilitate the team's retrospectives. When this is the case you will often find a general lack of engagement or enthusiasm for them from the rest of the team. It may be one person's job to make sure they happen and everyone turns up, that does not and should not mean they also have to run every retrospective as well.
Instead try and get everyone to take turns facilitating. Not only does this ensure no one feels they're always being driven by one person's agenda, there are many other side benefits:
- Learning how to facilitate is great for developing communication skills and generally how to have effective meetings.
- The burden of planning retrospectives is shared across multiple people.
- Retrospectives are less likely to become dull or repetitive.
Get someone outside the team to facilitate
This is a great technique to avoid the risk of biased facilitators (face it, we're all biased whether we believe it or not!) and really easy to do if you have more than one software team