Retrospectives are more than a ceremony

As a member and scrum master of scrum teams the retrospective is one of the parts of the process that I value the most. It’s the core of the inspect and adapt process, and what helps teams improve and mature. I’ve noticed a behavior during retrospectives recently where all the ceremonies are followed, but if the actions are discussed later it’s discovered that evidence of improvement is lacking.

My suggestion is for teams to look for 3 things out of their retrospectives.

1. Root Cause – perform a root cause analysis on the identified issues. Something similar to the 5 whys exercise; so you have an actionable root cause.

2. Planned Action – for each root cause decide on a planned action to address the root cause. This is aimed at preventing the issue before it becomes one.

3. Measurement – a goal measurement that each action should achieve. This is to allow for an objective assessment of the action to determine if it has addressed the cause. Consider looking for measurements that are targets, rather than volume type measurements.

These 3 outcomes for each issue raised during the retrospective allow us to understand the impact each adjustment has, and ensure we’re focusing on the intent of the retrospective – improvement.

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