As a retrospective facilitator I realise that if action items don't get completed from retro to retro, they can get really frustrating. I've realised that discussion around previous incomplete items can also be a time-sink especially if there's little ownership. A couple of things I like to do as a retrospective facilitator are:
- Use the SMART acronym to drive out action items (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Boxed) - Its useful to remember that you have perhaps just a week between retros, so sign up only for what you can complete during the week.
- Dont take the onus of driving the actions yourself. Assign an owner to drive it and decide what observable results the group is looking for.
- When reviewing the action item, have the owner give an update and see if the group is satisfied. If not, ensure that it doesnt end up being a blame game against the owner and more an exercise to determine why something didn't happen.
- Remind the group that improvement is a collective goal and there's a shared responsibility towards it.