Saturday, September 17, 2011

Agile Retrospectives - Making Good Teams Great

Authors:  Esther Derby & Diane Larsen
Published: 2006
Publisher: The Pragmatic Bookshelf
Paperback: 182 pages



Agile Principle # 12  - At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts  its behavior accordingly.
The "reflection" part typically  happens in a  retrospective meeting after every iteration . Unless retrospective meetings are well planned, well facilitated and result in clear cut action items for the team to "tune and adjust", they will not be of much value.  But a successful retrospective will enable a team to improve their capability and productivity and increase their capacity to deliver a high quality product. Moreover it will result in better teamwork and job satisfaction.
And how to get these benefits out of retrospectives is what exactly the authors of this book have attempted to teach us through this book. 


A 5-step framework based on authors wide experience is proposed for conducting a retrospective  viz; 

  1. Set the Stage
  2. Gather Data
  3. Generate Insights
  4. Decide What To Do
  5. Close the Retrospective
Retrospectives if always conducted in a same manner can turn out to be pretty mundane exercise. However the variety of tools and activities (more than 30) suggested for each of the above steps will ensure that retrospectives are a fun as well as productive. Every activity is described in detail almost in a cookbook fashion. in five chapters dedicated to the five steps in the retrospective.
There is also a chapter on leading a retrospective which discusses issues like managing the activities, the time, the group dynamics and even self-management. 
While the book is focused on iteration retrospectives there is a chapter devoted to end of release and end of project retrospective also.
Stories from real life retrospectives are also shared in this book.
A useful and handy book which each team should have !


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