As teams move further into a project and are required to do retrospectives regularity, there can come a time when the quality of the retrospectives can begin to decline as compliancy sets in. The usual questions of what went well and what went wrong can start to grow boring and teams can lose sight of the goal of retrospectives. A team might use a few other actives, but overtime just reuse those ones over and over again as well. However ensuring that the team you are working on or leading is invested in the project is very important and so there are a few ways to keep their interest up.
One of the most important ways is to ensure that you are following the basic pattern of retrospectives each time. This patter consists of setting the stage, gathering data, generating insights, deciding what to do and the closing.
The two questions of what went right and wrong can often skip past two or more of the steps in this basic pattern, namely setting the stage and then gathering data, and jumps right to the generate insights portion.
The gathering data stage is especially important as this is the part where the teams discuss what exactly occurred such as what went wrong, or what you plan to do about a particular issue, or what you want to improve or focus more on. You should be spending a majority of the time on this step as it allows the entire team to be on the same page.
When a team is doing the same retrospectives over and over again, then they can become numb to its effects. It just becomes something you have to do rather than something that should be used to improve the project. Therefore it is important that the types of retrospectives are changed frequently to keep the team members interested. There are several locations that different strategies can be found such as Retrospective Wiki. Expanding the different resources that you are using can help to boost your own retrospectives.
Often times it is too easy to find issues with a project, be it delays, or bugs or lack of resources. They can often stack up and a team can find themselves overwhelmed. Normally with a retrospective a team might pick a handful of problems to focus on, but as more issues arise, those issues might be forgotten or overlooked to deal with new ones. This can impact moral as the same issues arise in each retrospective.
One way to deal with this is to only focus on a single improvement at a time. A smaller batch of issues can make the problems go smoother. It is also important to make sure that the goals of the team are specific, not something like, team will create more unit tests (Scrum Teams). That is too vague and not going to help advance the project.
You can take a page from SMART goals and ask What, Why, Who, When and How when making the outcomes of the retrospective stronger and more effective.
“6 Simple Actions to Help Scrum Teams Improve.” Agile @ Adobe, blogs.adobe.com/agile/2014/10/08/6-simple-actions-to-help-scrum-teams-improve/.