Breaking agile: Retrospective meetings

In my daily work as an agile coach i have observed a wide range of wisdom pearls that all contribute to the break down of the agile mindset. Read this and the following blog entries to get hints on how YOU can sabotage your project with high impact!

  • It is important that it is the same person every time which facilitates the meeting. This will maintain the same structure and form of communication throughout the process.
  • The facilitator should preferably be someone from the team and preferably the project manager or scrum master. This will ensure that the team’s main problems are illuminated and no events in the past sprint forgotten!
  • Use the same agenda each time. In this way, all participants know what they are getting into and it’ll ensure a consistent, uniform, output from all retrospective meetings .
  • Set maximum 30-60 minutes of the meeting and make it short and effective. If people have prepared input properly before the meeting, they can take give input quickly and efficiently without much discussion. Often the issues still remain the same from time to time – so why spend more time on it ?
  • Do not appoint people responsible for decided actions. It is important that the whole team takes responsibility for the things to be changed in the future. If a single team member is assigned there’s a risk of solving the issue to quick.
  • If the team is distributed , it is important to hold separate meetings for each location. Executing the meeting via webcam or other electronic devices is difficult – also all team members knows well who really form the big problem!
  • Keep the meeting formal and structured . Live the like to the motto “Form over content”. A meeting held with hard meeting management and an exaggerated structure ensures an effective meeting where all points are processed and recorded in the minutes.
  • Never look at the historical facts. There is no need to show the team burn down chart and discuss the major events that have been in the past sprint . The team is already aware of the process and graphs are ONLY a necessary evil enforced by management .
  • The facilitator should have prepared a number of improvement points before the meeting. It is important that the facilitator has prepared a secret agenda with the changes to be introduced in the team. During the meeting, the facilitator will easily guide the team toward the right decisions !
  • It is not important that everyone is present – nor that all provide input. If people do not want to share their experiences with the rest of the team – why force them? It is inconvenient and leads to unnecessary confrontations in the team. Make sure that the worst problem creators are kept out .

I really hope that these observations will be accepted and adopted in teams all around the world. Feel free to inform me of implementations and other pearls of wisdom on this matter.