Team says ‘can the retro’, actually is not a bad idea!


When it comes to continual improvement the first tool comes to the mind is an retrospective meeting. Of-course its a great tool that opens up avenues to speak equally and have say, even for the quietest member of the team, and it works! And this comes naturally to a long running self-organised functional team. Then arise a need to use different retrospectives formats and activities too to keep it interesting for this group. Introducing new activities, futurospectives, focused challenge solutions, mini improvements etc. (all designed for their context) to inspect and adapt every two weeks can last for a long time.

At one point team come to the terms and concludes, still its quite boring, as they just do the improvements on the fly whats agreed between them and keeps moving on. There goes the need to get rid of the retrospectives as a ceremony!

In a team retrospectives lose value due to 2 reasons;

  1. they get boring, monotonous
  2. they produce no actionable items that can’t be worked

Sounds familiar! Well, I think its a good sign if its coming from the team with a good intent. I would say its pretty common for a team to reach this milestone cherish it, indeed its a healthy sign of their maturity i.e. self-organised and high performing will replace the ceremonies that were designed to build these traits and right behaviors. One should not critically question it, rather embrace it and allow them to choose the mechanism they like to use and experiment, ultimately its for improvements.

While experimenting, be prepared as it wont be one the tool they will stick to for too long, as they will continue to nurture the experimental culture, learn and settle until they there is a need to change again. Again open to change is reaffirming, only ‘change’ is constant.

Next question to the facilitators arise, what are those other mechanisms for replacing basic ceremonies?

Below are few options that I tried and continue the search;

  • Survey’s – Random questions relevant to the context/situation!
  • Suggestion box – near the team’s area, physical wall
  • Vote Box – what to keep and adapt, any new ideas
  • Health radar – questionnaire to rate themselves and depicting it on a radar
  • Happiness index – physical or online
  • 360 degree feedback

Don’t be surprised if they feel a need to call a formal retrospective meeting to surface critical issues, this re-instates the importance the inspect and adapt mechanism embedded by this ceremony, once they decided to ditch!

I am eager to hear your thoughts, insights and learn from you, if you have been into similar situations, what other creative ways you embraced and any interesting tools techniques you used specifically or recommended to the teams. Appreciate for your comments and shared learning!


Shri is an pragmatic agilist, working as an coach and passionate about bringing people together for a purpose to work as one unit and create great outcomes. Focused to deliver customer eccentric business outcomes connected to strategy. Also a critical thinker to tailor solutions within given constraints and context. Sharing the goodies of agile way of doing things learnt from others and experiential learning. Lean thinker. Love the concept of learn fast and move forward towards working solutions. Also a believer in people being the most essential part of the whole equation, instilling trust and motivations help building great products and solutions.

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