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George Dinwiddie shares the following retrospective smells.
- Retrospectives that limit themselves to the three questions, "What worked? What didn't work so well? What are we going to change?"
- Retrospectives that don't ensure that all the participants are represented. It takes care to get the thoughts and feelings of the introverts.
- Retrospectives that don't establish safety, or at least acknowledge the level of safety felt by the participants.
- Retrospectives that are designed to lead to a particular conclusion.
- It's not a retrospective if you've got "the answer" before you start.
- It's not a retrospective if the answers come from the leader instead of the participants.
It is very clear that retrospective as a tool can fix things or break things if not done properly. Knowledge and experience of the scrum master plays a key role in facilitating retrospective. Here is a good web resource that has been created by Agilists to share their retrospective experience and in turn help others.