TL; DR: The Blame Game Retrospective

There are plenty of failure possibilities with Scrum. Given that Scrum is a framework with a reasonable yet short “manual,” this effect should not surprise anyone. Turning the Sprint Retrospective into a Blame Game Retrospective demonstrates a Scrum team’s lack of skills and professionalism.

Join me and explore the reasons and the consequences of this Sprint Retrospective anti-pattern in 83 seconds.

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The Purpose of the Sprint Retrospective According to the Scrum Guide

The Sprint Retrospective reflects both a Scrum team’s ambition to continuously improve as well as its empowerment:

The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness.
The Scrum Team inspects how the last Sprint went with regards to individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and their Definition of Done. Inspected elements often vary with the domain of work. Assumptions that led them astray are identified and their origins explored. The Scrum Team discusses what went well during the Sprint, what problems it encountered, and how those problems were (or were not) solved.

Source: Scrum Guide 2020.

Why Playing the Blame Game Retrospective Is an Indicator for the Scrum Team’s Professionalism

The Retrospective is an endless cycle of blame and finger-pointing. The point is that Scrum is a team sport: The team wins together; the team loses together. The blame game Retrospective hence documents the failure of the Scrum Master as the facilitator as well as the Scrum team’s lack of maturity and communication skills.

What can you do about it? Revist the Scrum Values as a Scrum Team:

  • Commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect — without them, transparency, inspection, and adaptation cannot work their magic.
  • If Scrum Values are a challenge, create, for example, a skill-radar for Scrum Values and visualize its development over time.

Learn more about how to create Scrum Value radars: Data-Informed Retrospectives.

The Blame Game Retrospective — Conclusion

There are many ways in which a Sprint Retrospective can be a failure. Among those, the blame game, the finger-pointing, is the most obvious and challenging that requires the utmost attention from all team members to overcome.

What Sprint Retrospective anti-patterns have you observed? Please share them with us in the comments.

📖 The Blame Game Retrospective — Related Posts

21 Sprint Retrospective Anti-Patterns Impeding Scrum Teams

A Sprint Review without Stakeholders — Making Your Scrum Work #3

Three Wide-Spread Product Owner Failures in 6:09 Minutes — Making Your Scrum Work #5

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