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People frequently blame retrospectives being unproductive and boring. But it’s the same as blaming Vodka for getting drunk. Execution is the key.

Some stuff people say about retrospectives:

“I hate scrum and everything about it”

Retrospectives don’t come from Scrum. They don’t even come from Agile. If you know continuous improvement approach sometimes fancy called Kaizen, initially implemented in Toyota it comes from there. But the idea of retrospectives is probably as old as the world.


“We already know what problems are”

That’s perfect, then collect them, prioritise and assign responsible people to eliminate those problems.

“We never actually act on action points”

Assign responsible people for every action point and make it part of the sprint or development cycle.

“Retrospectives are boring”.

Very likely because they are not moderated well. Very likely only a few people talk and some people don’t have time left on a meeting to express their own opinion and they get bored and disengaged.

"Retrospectives are just waste of time"

Collect information in advance. There is no reason to sit in a meeting room chewing pen and thinking about what to write because you haven’t done your homework. All these charades with writing cards, putting them on a wall, vote, prioritising might take 15-20 minutes and this is 1/4-1/3 of an hour. Even if you make retrospectives online — still collect points in advance using a virtual retro board. Create online retrospective boards. Plenty of tools are available online. Notify your team to add cards and vote on them. Then on the meeting, you actually spent time on what is important: discussing and addressing pain points.

What are your thoughts on how to improve retrospectives and what unwise arguments you’ve heard for skipping them?

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