I spend lots of time thinking about my teams and how to effectively use retrospective tool for Dominating Don to Silent Sara. I like to start the retrospective with an ice breaker and follow lots of different style. Some worked very nice and other failed miserably. We also focus on action items at the end. Awesome right!!!! .
After doing almost 500+ retrospectives, one thing I have learnt that having a goal always helps. I experimented one more thing, which seems to have worked better.
We did "High Performing Tree" retrospective with a simple twist in the language. We start every sentence with "How might we" or "Sometimes I wish". Very quickly we started filling up our tree with really clear yet individual assessment about team.
We went over each sticky note and created our own list of important traits. Mainly focusing on, "How we can come together and work as a unit?" and "What kind of group level feedback we would require to be a performing team." Our focus was to understand, "what kind of team we actually are "and "what kind of team we imagine to become". We came up with a small plan and quick "performing traits" burn up for ourselves.
This was a turning point for my team. Next retrospective was very focused towards those goals and stabilizing ourselves to meet them. We always tried updating our "performing traits" burn up at the end of retrospective.
Hope this technique will help your team as well. Try and let me know your feedback.