This is a lesson i’ve learned many times running my own company: “ending a meeting without a decision is disruptive”.
You are investing time discussing, analyzing, gathering data, process information and multiply that for the people involved. And if the meeting give no action then it’s a waste.
A 2h meeting for 5 persons could be 10 wasted hours.
You can apply the same to Retrospectives, repeat this mantra with me:
Avoid the Do-Nothing Retrospective
This is not only true but extremely true.
Keep in mind why do we retrospect: Not because the Scrum guide says that but because we want to improve. And we believe we can do it through inspection and adaption.
So take at least an action as result of the meeting, if you think everything is perfect, but i assume is not, use a simple:
“Keep the things running smoothly and great like the past sprint”.
And trust me even trying to replicate a great sprint is not so easy.
If you know and understand why the past sprint was so great you can create your team list of good habits to perform well again.
In real cases we found many things not running well, which most likely a common path, in those situations the suggestion is to avoid too much changes, and work on one or two improvement(s) at time.
Sometimes when is not possible to find a solution in the retrospective meeting I encourage the team to schedule a dedicated meeting to discuss the topic and find a solution, people has time to prepare and maybe experiment some idea and be ready for a very focused problem solving meeting. Those meetings could be done by just few team members or maybe some team members and some external persons.
Not only avoiding the disruptive do-nothing retro is vital but also avoid the “Blaming external causes Retrospective“.
Last but not least keep in mind those wise words from the book “Agile Retrospective – Making Good Teams Great” by Esther Derby, Diana Larsen:
Change happens in the course of normal work. Teams who believe their retrospectives are a waste of time often keep their improvement plans completely separate from their daily work plans. When the plans are separate, no one finds time to do the “extra” work.