The goal of Retrospective is improvement of our current situation – we know where we are, we envision where we would like to be and we make hypotheses how we could get there. We are planning experiments for this, which are our Action Items. We believe that implementing those Action Items will get us to the desired state or closer to it.
For this we might create single time Action Items or repetitive Rules (and ideally add them to our Working Agreements). Very important that those would be really Actionable, and not just Recommendations or Wishful Thinking.
The Action Items have to address mostly the situations that are in Control of the team. Still we might Influence some of the situations and for this we need to plan Action Items with clear indication Who to try to influence and How (“Robert will organize a workshop for us with Security team to go together through our main pain points”). There also are situations which are out of control and influence, and we just need to Adapt to them.
Action Items need to be small and concrete. Some experiments and actions might be quite big and complex, and if we plan such an Action Item it would be unclear how to do it (e.g.: “We need to get more insights from Customer Success team”). So here it might be useful to plan a clear and doable first step. (e.g.: “Peter will brainstorm with Maria from Customer Success how we can collaborate to get the insights about our customers”).
And every Action Item should have an Owner!