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Is retrospective a good place check the status previous retrospective action items?

In my team we identify action items every retrospective; however I am not sure whether we should review them during the next retrospective.

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We've been doing retrospectives for a long time and that question is also what we had in our mind. We tried to check the status of the action points of previous retrospectives for many sprints.

We noticed that most of the actions took too much time to complete or never completed at all. That is the main problem we face and I am sure it is common for many teams as well. Getting the status of action points do not resolve this problem and it adds very little value to the whole process.

So what we did is we started to add action points to sprint backlog as individual tasks in a separate "retrospective action points" story.

Here are some tips:

  1. Team should estimate if the action points need effort of the team.
  2. If the points will be implemented by Scrum Master, you may put a zero-point task to sprint backlog or skip it. It's up to you.
  3. By adding action points to sprint backlog, team will track the status in a daily basis and try to make it happen much more eager that before.
  4. Keep in mind that you may need to split action points into several tasks to fit into your sprint.

We had good progress by following these steps. Teams started to focus on defining concrete action points (that is very important for retrospectives) and to complete one by one. I hope it helps you too.

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  • We have a specific issue type in JIRA for Retrospective Actions. I love this idea.
    – JDRoger
    Jan 22 '16 at 18:40
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I think this is a team choice or a manager's choice, but I would not. Time is valuable. The goal of the retrospective to conduct it for the piece of work under analysis. Actions from previous should be reported in other existing venues, such as the weekly team meetings or, if the action is large enough to be come its own project, then communication of progress would be established as part of that project communications plan.

You are balancing the goal of the meeting, the benefits of those goals, against the constraints of how much that meeting costs and your audience and what they need to hear. If reviewing those actions furthers that goal and the value of the meeting, have at it. But my guess is it doesn't.

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It is certainly up to the team, but for transparency and to make change visible I would typically recommend reviewing action items at the start of your retrospective. Teams need to be sure their time is being used appropriately. By not being explicit and transparent on our progress on action items, this can be detrimental to the team. This can cause the team to say, "Retrospectives are a waste of time".

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