Back to Blog
It’s a scene that plays out in teams around the world regardless of industry.
You get to the end of a truly inspired retrospective. Everyone contributes. Everyone feels heard. You create a game plan for how each individual is going to improve during your next sprint. You walk away feeling confident and productive.
Until two weeks later when you realize that not one single person followed through with their sprint retrospective action items. And just like that, you’re back to square one.
We cannot emphasize this enough: YOU 👏 ARE 👏 NOT 👏 ALONE.
Agile teams regularly struggle with following through on the action items assigned during retrospectives. There's just so much going on -- product to deliver, bugs to fix, meetings to attend, that retrospective action items tend to get lost in the shuffle.
So how is a team supposed to continuously improve if no one is following through? 🤔
The answer is simple: they’re not. 🚫
One of the biggest contributors to a lack of follow-through is when team members aren’t armed with a list of action items post-retro.
In fact, the ability to export your agile retrospective action plan has been one of the most highly requested product updates to the Retrium tool.
So for those of you asking, we’ve heard you!
YOU CAN NOW EXPORT YOUR ACTION ITEMS IN RETRIUM!! 🎉
As of today, you can officially export your team’s action plan into a .csv file at the end of your retrospective. Whoo hoo!
Now, we’re not saying that simply because you can now export your action items, that you will suddenly have a spike in follow-through, because that’s not necessarily the case. Teams still must proactively work on action items throughout the sprint. The ability to export merely makes the documentation of action items easier and more accessible to help you and your team keep them top of mind.
Before we get into some of our favorite ways to improve on your team’s follow-through, let’s take a moment to discuss action items.
Action items are pretty self-explanatory, actually. At the end of your retro, you will have discovered issues from your most recent sprint, and you’ll need to find ways to address those issues moving forward. The changes that need to be implemented are your action items. This can come in the form of bug fixes, time management, scope of project modifications, expectation management, etc.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s take a look at some improvements you can make to help your team improve follow-through.
Facilitators should be taking diligent notes on action items as they arise throughout the retro to then be distributed for follow-through during your next sprint. Note that it is not ideal to rely on retro participants to remember their own action items - this falls within the duties of the facilitator. Participants should only focus on the retrospective itself.
We’ve made this easier with the ability to export your action items from Retrium.
How does your scrum team usually keep track of action items for sprint retrospectives? With a backlog, right? So why should action items be any different? By adding these to-do’s to whatever backlog you are already looking at on a daily basis (think jira, trello, etc.), you’ll be sure to evaluate them in each standup and complete them in a timely manner.
In a similar vein, it’s important to keep these tasks at the forefront of your list of priorities during each sprint. By taking the time to review any agile retrospective action plan to-dos at the beginning of your day the same way you’d check your calendar - or even during daily standups - you’re more likely to make consistent progress.
Sometimes you’re going to have way too many action items at the end of your retrospective to realistically address all of them in the upcoming sprint. That’s okay! Maybe it was a busy week or a particularly long project. Heck, maybe you even missed your last retro.
Regardless of the reason why, the point is things happen and occasionally you’re going to have a seemingly overwhelming amount of actions items for the upcoming weeks. By setting clear priorities with your team, you can work together to decide which items need to be tackled first to make the most beneficial impact for your team and, ultimately, your customers. Then...well...do those things!
Another way to tackle an overwhelming list of post-retro action items is to simply select a few that you’re going to commit to having completed by your next retrospective. Depending on your team, this can be a less intimidating way to work your way through an extensive list without overcommitting any one individual team member.
Retrium CEO, David Horowitz, points to one key objective to keep your team focused on the output of your retrospective - keep the action items top of mind by displaying them in a very public way. Maybe your team has a whiteboard in the office that you can use or you can simply add some sticky notes to the windows like you did back in your college dorm room.
There are so many ways that your team can improve follow through on action items. The ability to download your sprint retrospective action plan makes the items your team discussed during your retrospective more accessible so you can more quickly realize the full benefits of driving *real* continuous improvement.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to give it a try in your next retro! Simply run your retrospective like normal, and click “export to .csv” after the discuss phase.