I participated in one retrospective run by a contract Project Manager whose style was to stand in front of the group, and ask individuals one by one for a single idea for a “What Went Well”, “What Went Less Well” wall. I felt horrified as I saw each person uncomfortably offer a very brief statement, or in general, skip their turn and all with little discussion around it.

I look back at that situation and guess that it wouldn’t have been so bad if the team already had trust and confidence in the facilitator, but it was obvious from my perspective, based on the lack of interaction and productive conversations, this retrospective offered little value.

Strategies that I would employ (and some that I did) to improve the situation include using an independent facilitator (with no vested interest) to run the retrospective, collate input using sticky-notes to improve anonymity and efficiency, and to spend more time, drawing out the story behind the items to identify any common root causes.