Sometimes teams get stuck at the point of “deciding what to do” in retrospectives. Team members may begin to point fingers and describe things that the ubiquitous “they” must do before the team can move forward or make improvements,. This may lead to a team-as-victim, “poor us, we’re stuck” syndrome, or blame and finger-pointing. “It’s their fault we’re in this mess!” Blame kills retrospectives and the perception of persecution stalls any hope of forward motion, so the retrospective leader has to shift this conversation, and fast! Team members also may perceive so much room for improvement they become paralyzed and can’t decide where to start improving their lot.
When victim-talk, blaming or overwhelm surfaces, I reach into my retrospective leaders toolbox and pull out a technique to help teams identify the kinds of action the team can take.