This is the conclusion of my Retrospectives series.
After generating insights, the team works together to create a list of actions items. This sounds simple enough; however, teams often find themselves completing none or a small number of the action items by the next retrospective. Why does this happen?
Change is hard. We often overestimate our abilities. Instead of expecting members to accomplish multiple items, it can be helpful to focus on one action item a week. This does not mean members should actively ignore the other items mentioned; rather, individuals should place their focus on one goal.
Another issue to consider is how action items are being created. We recently had a retrospective where we reflected on action items from previous retros. We asked ourselves these questions: 1)Did we accomplish the task? 3)Is it a good action item?. We then generated insight by looking for patterns. We noticed that we tend to ignore action items if not everybody was on board or if the action item only affected certain members. Just because people voted for the action item does not mean that they support the item. Thus, it is important to ensure that everybody understands why the action item is worth completing. Members might even realize that the item is not so important; thus, they can choose a different goal to focus on instead. I highly recommend having a retrospective on previous retros every so often.
This is the end of the retrospectives series. Although I hope you have added some new tools to your retro toolbox, I believe the most important thing to remember is that there is no one retro template to fit every occasion. If you lead every retrospective the same way every time, then you are leading inefficient retrospectives. This is because humans are not static beings. They’re dynamic individuals with diverse, changing needs and desires. Thus, it is essential to consider your team as you facilitate retros. Do not try to become a mind-reader. Instead, strive to lead with empathy. With empathy, you will lead effective retrospectives.