I have been asked to facilitate a retrospective but I was specifically told not to lead the retrospective.

What is the difference between leading a retrospective and facilitating a retrospective and does anyone have any tips or article links?

1 Answer 1


Facilitating a meeting is very different than leading a meeting. One focuses on leading the content of the meeting while the other focuses on the structure of the meeting...the facilitator being the latter.

The facilitator manages the meeting plan, ensuring the flow the agenda, the objectives of each agenda item are being met, time, participation, conflict resolution, stopping off topic conversations, etc. Facilitator also ensures the meeting room is set up properly, materials are present, scribes are present, food is there, etc. During the meeting, the facilitator will read the room, ensuring participation from everyone, reading body language and intervening when necessary.

This is a great question because I think most think the leader is also the facilitator. You cannot focus on structure when you are also focusing on meeting content...or at least you cannot do it well. It is very wise to separate the roles, especially for hard, complex meetings.

  • Thanks. It's part of an interview process for a scrum master position. They have given me very little go on but said I must facilitate not lead. Does this mean I need to come up with the meeting plan and structure or do you think they will give it to me?
    – TheLearner
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:00
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    I would assume you would have to devise your own. But I would have no way of knowing for sure. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:02
  • 4
    Great answer, David. I'll add that in a retrospective, there should be no leader. It's a team of equals. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 16:38

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