It seems clear to me that a lot of us out there don’t like retrospectives. Ok… maybe you are an Agilist and you actually love them (me too)… but I feel pretty safe in saying that this feeling is not shared by all the members of your team.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately and it seems to me that this “not liking” aspect can be broken down into two categories.
Retrospectives make me uncomfortable. Examples of this would include: “I have trouble speaking up in a group setting.”; “I have difficulty seeing different points of view especially when they are at odds with my own.”; “I don’t want to create conflict or hurt someone’s feelings.”
Retrospectives are unproductive. Examples of this would include: “I prefer to focus on my core work than retrospect. That’s where I feel most productive.”; “What we talk about at the retro is less important than what I’m working on right now.”; “We talk and talk, but we don’t actually do anything.”
I would say that most participants in a retrospective will identify to some degree with the “uncomfortable” and / or “unproductive” views of a retrospective. Rather than viewing this as a problem to solve, I would suggest that these “dislikes” are an opportunity for the team to explore with curiosity. So consider…
Making retrospectives comfortable. Consider on a personal and team level: “What needs to happen so that everyone can engage with the activity? What are different ways that we can share ideas, sample different points of view, and be at ease with different attitudes on the team?”
Making retrospectives productive. Consider on a personal and team level: “What needs to happen to make these gatherings productive? Are we talking about the most important problem impacting the team’s ability to deliver value? If not, then what will it take for us to do that? How do we hold ourselves accountable to our decisions and actions coming out of the retrospective?”
If the retrospective is generating some dislike on your team, then perhaps the time has come to have a Retro on Retros?