Let’s take it with a grain of salt. Not all retro meetings are fun. I have experience attending meetings where only the scrum master was speaking. Are retrospective meetings always dull? Can you make the team love the meetings? Here are 5 tips that you can use in your next meeting.
#1 Keep discussion points to a minimum
A typical retrospective meeting generates 10+ issues or concerns to be addressed. It is futile to attempt and discuss all these items.
Dot voting is a good technique to identify items that are of high priority. Choose two or three items from the top of the priority list and dedicate the meeting for these items. You can always use the additional items for next meeting.
This also helps in getting deeper into important issues and understand the root cause, rather than being perfunctory with everything.
#2 Experiment with various meeting formatsBoredom is a primary reason behind failed #retrospectives #agile Click To Tweet
Variety is one of the cures available for boredom. Rather than sticking to the book-style retro meeting format, find new formats that the team may love. Even better, get inputs from the team on what they would like to try out.
Here are some ideas…
- Dedicate a meeting only for praises, gratitude, and compliments
- Identify failures from the iteration and focus only on lessons learned
- Rotate the role of facilitator within the team
#3 Don’t ignore those who don’t talk
Due to personal and cultural reasons, some people don’t talk in retrospective meetings. It is not an advantage or benefit that you have one less person talking in the meeting.
Ignoring this person may lead to following impacts:
- Some good ideas in their head might be lost
- Their attitude turns contagious and spread to the team
- They bring in negative energy into the meeting
- They stop attending the meeting
If you find someone too quiet or not participating in the meeting, here is a simple way to engage the person. Ask the following question:
[Person name]. What do you think about [any issue]?
This will normally get the person talking. If not, try other means of engagement. Unengaged members lead to failed retrospectives.
#4 Try to avoid “formal” meeting rooms
According to me, any meeting room with tables and chairs is a “formal” meeting room. Retro meetings don’t always have to happen in such rooms. In fact, they don’t even need to happen in rooms!#Retro meetings don't always have to happen in meeting rooms #agile Click To Tweet
A good first step is to choose a room without tables. Chairs can be arranged in a circle where members can talk without any barriers between them.
Another idea is to hold the meeting outside your office – maybe in a restaurant or a park nearby.
Retro meetings are much better if done informally.
#5 Highlight action items from old meetings, that were actually acted on
One mistake many managers or scrum masters do is to ignore action items from the past meetings. Here’s why I think it is important.
Consider you share all your feelings and concerns with a person, hoping that person will help solve them. If the person is indifferent and doesn’t do anything to help you, would you share with him again? Hopefully not.
Team members can end up with a similar notion if the owners are indifferent about action items from the past. Spend considerable time to review these items and remind the owners to take action, if not done so.
Another benefit is the sense of satisfaction a team member has when his/her voice is heard and acted upon.
It is not uncommon for the team to hate retrospective meetings. Here are some ways to make them love it, again.
- Keep discussion points to a minimum
- Try various meeting formats to avoid boredom
- Don’t ignore those who don’t talk
- Avoid formal meeting rooms and find interesting venues
- Review actions from the past meetings that are acted upon, to motivate participation
What strategies are you using to make your team love the retrospectives?