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How will you handle the situation when your team says that, “they want to skip doing the Retrospective event?”

One team member said they wanted to skip doing the Retrospective event as they couldn’t think of anything new to work.

As a Scrum Master, how do you deal with this situation? Every event in Scrum is an opportunity to inspect and adapt. So if we re-frame the question, it becomes – “When does a team cannot Inspect and Adapt in the Retrospective?”

To answer this, let us ask, Why do we do the Sprint Retrospective event in the first place?

Why do we do Sprint Retrospective?

We do Sprint retrospective because:-

  • We want to increase our quality and effectiveness.
  • We want to evaluate our Processes, People, Tools, Interactions, and our “Definition of Done”.

The agenda is not to develop new action items or new improvement items in every Retrospective event.

Now let us identify why Agile teams get stuck and what to do about it.

When do Agile teams get stuck, and what to do about it?

  1. They try to change too much.
    • Soln.
      1. Limit the number of things you are trying to change.
      2. Focus on one or two action items at a time.
  2. They don’t see anything to change.
    • Soln.
      1. Focus on the team’s vision. Does the team have a common goal?
        • If yes, put the Goal in the SMART format.
        • If not, then the first step should be to create this Goal. Revisit the Team Vision and try formulating a Goal around that.
      2. Compare the team’s current state with that Goal.
      3. Find one change that will get the team closer to the Goal.
  3. The team is changing at a rate faster than the organisation can accept.

How to address “1. Team tries to change too much” through Retrospective Event.

In your next Retrospective, follow the below agenda to address point no.1.

  1. Set the context – Inform your team that, “Hey team, we cannot come up with new action items.”. Tell them that you feel that many of our previous improvement items are still open. So we are going to follow a different format this time.
  2. List down all the pending improvement items from the previous retrospectives.
  3. Prioritise these pending improvement items.
    • Decide upon the method that you can use to prioritise. For example – Effort vs Value Grid.
  4. Have a dot voting for the Low Effort and High-Value items.
  5. Final Selection – Pick up two items you would like to target in the next sprint.
  6. Spend the next part of the Retro in coming up with the team’s steps to complete the improvement item.
  7. Put this in your Sprint Backlog.
  8. Talk about it in the Daily Scrum.
  9. Track it to closure.

How to address “2. Team don’t see anything to change.” through Retrospective event.

In your next Retrospective, follow the below agenda to address point no.1.

  1. Focus on the team’s vision. Does the team have a common goal?
    • If yes, move to the next step.
    • If no, use an exercise/workshop to arrive at the team Vision.
  2. Revisit the team Vision and try formulating a Goal around that. Take care to put the Goal in the SMART format.
  3. Compare the team’s current state with that Goal.
    • Brainstorm with the team Members where do they think they are with respect to the above Goal.
    • Remember to use a facilitation technique to have a constructive round of Brainstorming.
  4. Find one change that will get the team closer to the Goal.
    • Determine the next action item(s) that will take the team closer to their Goal.
    • Once again, use a Facilitation technique to close on the final action item.
  5. Add the final action items in your Sprint Backlog.
  6. Talk about it in the Daily Scrum.
  7. Track it to closure.

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