I've seen many descriptions of retrospectives that equate the term with "continuous improvement." While retrospectives are a good tool for improvement, there are other ways to approach improvement, also. Also, not all retrospectives result in finding a better way of working. Sometimes it may be that lies in merely achieving a better understanding of what happened, or a better understanding of your teammates. If so, let that be. That better understanding can be the source of future improvements.
In Well-Being Writ Large, Barbara Jo Brothers mentions "that enlightenment brought 'by looking at the past with new eyes.'" It struck me that this is one reason that good retrospectives are so powerful. It's not enough to remember the lessons we learned at the time. We must take a fresh look at the data, or what data remains in our memory. When we look back at the past having experienced what came after, we can notice patterns that weren't visible to us at the time.
And when we look back, together, as a group, we find that some of us have different data than others. I might not have noticed something that seemed significant to you. I might have been out of the room, or it may have seemed so mundane that I overlooked it. We tune into different aspects of what's going on, and filter out different things as not worth noticing.
P.S. I'm re-starting my newsletter after a very long absence. I've decided to roll my own rather than use a commercial newsletter service. I don't like the way they track opens and forwards, surveilling the subscribers to gather usage statistics. I just want to