So, this isn’t my first time reading Esther Derby and Diana Larsen‘s book, Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. However, having ordered a new copy (the old one is lost in the depths of my office) I decided to take it with me to Agile Coach Camp Germany and read on the journey.
You can divide Agile Retrospectives into two parts:
- how to run a retrospective, and
- activities to make the most of your time when running a retrospective.
The first section deals with how to run a retrospective. The book spends very little time on why you should run a retrospective, but this isn’t a bad thing; if you want to run them I hope you know why practitioners are so ardent about them. Starting with a conversation between a team and their facilitator the section continues in a chatty, informal way, regularly using stories and pictures to help convey their ideas. In particular, I like the tips dotted throughout the chapters highlighting things you can do to make your life easier and the retrospective run smoother.
The second part of the book gives activities for each stage of the retrospective. Each activity follows a standard template so you can flip through them quickly, looking for the one that fits best with your goals. Apart from the necessary steps to complete the exercise there are details such as materials needed, time required, possible variations and, something I find of great use, in what situations they are most useful. Similar to the first section , examples and pictures are liberally sprinkled throughout the exercises, showing how things can look before or after the exercise. These pictures help you to understand and layout the activity and reassure you that you are on the right track.
I can’t really fault the book, it does exactly what it says it does. It is fun, easy to read and follow, and acts as a great place to get ideas for retrospectives I run.