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Retrospectives have been the pulse of continuous improvement for teams since the boom in popularity of agile methods. For organisations who only inspected a project after it had delivered (or not), moving to a bi-weekly or monthly improvement cycle was a revolutionary shift, but why stop there? Unfortunately many teams repeat the same process over and over, so their retrospectives become flat, unrewarding and get discarded for not adding value. This can have slow down improvement and demotivate team members.

Learn how to improve retrospectives and avoid stagnation, with fifty ideas designed to help you enhance and energise your continuous improvement effort. This book will help you get better outcomes from retrospectives and from any continuous improvement initiative. It will help you consider how best to prepare for retrospectives, generate innovative insights, achieve valuable outcomes, improve facilitation techniques, keep things fresh and maybe even how to have a bit of fun whilst doing it.

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who undertakes continuous improvement of any sort, especially those looking to get better outcomes from retrospectives, either as a participant, facilitator, coach or manager of teams. We include ideas for people with varying levels of experience. So, whether you are just getting started with Scrum and retrospectives, or a veteran of continuous improvement looking to fine-tune or get new ideas, or if your retrospectives have become a bit stale and need re-invigorating, there are ideas in here to support you.

Many of the ideas and concepts are universally applicable and will be of use to anyone trying to make improvements in any industry or walk of life. They are not limited to the confines of software development, where we work.

Who is this book not for?

This book is not for someone without any knowledge of retrospectives. We are making an assumption that our readers will probably understand what a retrospective is, as well as how to go about using them. If you have little or no experience participating in or facilitating retrospectives please read another book first. There are plenty of good books and materials out there that introduce the basic processes and formats.

Tom Roden

Tom Roden is a software delivery coach, consultant and quality enthusiast, helping teams and people make the improvements needed to thrive and adapt to the ever changing demands of their environment.

Tom specialises in agile coaching, testing and transformation. He collaborates with teams intent on delivering high quality software with speed and reliability, supporting ongoing improvement through process and practice refinement, influenced by agile and lean principles.

Ben Williams

Ben Williams is a product development and organisational change consultant. Ben helps organisations deliver real business value, consistently and faster. Applying a wide range of tools and techniques drawn predominantly from agile and lean disciplines, Ben coaches teams and leaders to appraise and refine their work systems. Contact Ben at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @13enWilliams

  • About this book
  • Preparing for retrospectives

    • Count your interruptions

    • Walk the value stream

    • Take data into the room

    • Use numbers to gauge success

    • Crowd-source feedback

    • Visualise waste

    • Run an ideas box

  • Providing a clear focus

    • Renew your vows

    • Focus on stakeholder relationships

    • Hold a technical debt retrospective

    • Use timelines with different dimensions

    • Review projects with a larger group

    • Compare against models, not teams

    • Dissect a story

    • Run periodic complexity retrospectives

    • Consider waste in the wider system

  • Adapting the environment

    • Get a room

    • Involve business stakeholders

    • Throw food into the mix

    • Choose to travel

    • Take it outside

    • Do remote retrospectives

    • Dim the lights

  • Facilitating sessions

    • Don’t just say ‘we can’t’

    • Don’t let facilitators solve problems

    • Stand and deliver

    • Allow silence

    • Let the team dictate direction

    • Be free inside fences

    • Learn fast, don’t fail fast

    • Don’t be scared of freestyling it

    • Create a retrospective menu

    • Don’t let impediments become permanent.

  • Re-energising retrospectives

    • Do a face-to-face team 360

    • Tailor your retrospectives

    • Celebrate good times

    • Keep switching your process

    • Keep it short

    • Switch your facilitators around

    • Play retrospective roulette

  • Improving outcomes

    • Create a business case

    • Look after the pennies

    • Isolate experiments

    • Bake improvements in

    • Task out improvement ideas

    • Test assumptions with small experiments

    • Don’t batch your retrospection

    • Check out as well as in

    • Design experiments with goal-question-metric

    • Make improvements your number one

  • The End

    • Authors

    • Bibliography and resources

    • Legal Stuff