For various reasons a team may find itself without its Scrum Master to facilitate their retrospective. This doesn’t mean the retrospective shouldn't happen, but instead that the team can take the opportunity to run one for themselves (this is actually a sign of a self-organising team!)
If you find yourself needing to run a retrospective without a Scrum Master, here are some tips to help:
Scrum Masters are great at setting the scene and ensuring the team is in the right mindframe to talk openly with each other, as well as making the session productive. Use some of the following techniques to set the mood:
Have someone different run the retrospective each time. They can devise any type of retrospective they like, but remind them the aim of the session is to identify improvements and actions.
If you need to facilitate a session but want to participate as well, you need to make it clear which you are doing at any given time. For example if you’re in the same room, try standing when facilitating and sitting when participating. If you’re in a remote team on a video call, try wearing a hat when facilitating. (I know of someone who’s a master with accents and will change their voice depending if they’re facilitating or participating!)
You don’t need to do the same retrospective each time, or even actually a retrospective! You could use the time together to look forward at upcoming events in a futurespective, or try running a democratic Lean Coffee session.
Make sure to allocate enough time to identify your problem areas and devise solutions as a team. This will take longer than you think. Focus on tackling just a few actions, rather than many, and make sure there is someone responsible for each action.
It is entirely possible to run fun, engaging and productive retrospectives without a Scrum Master, and your team might even learn more about themselves having done so!
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