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Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,272 ratings  ·  124 reviews
See how to mine the experience of your software development team continually throughout the life of the project. The tools and recipes in this book will help you uncover and solve hidden (and not-so-hidden) problems with your technology, your methodology, and those difficult "people" issues on your team.

Project retrospectives help teams examine what went right and what wen
Paperback, 178 pages
Published August 2nd 2006 by Pragmatic Bookshelf (first published July 26th 2006)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Komal Mehta
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A practical guide to agile retrospective. Talks about many games to make the retro fruitfull. Recommended for all ScrumMasters.
Nick Jamil
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I regret putting this book off for as a long as I did. As someone who occasionally leads retrospectives, I feel this book was a vital resource for me. It's not just a list of techniques, but also a guide for how to lead effective discussions. It's short and a very easy read; it's also pretty skimmable. I will say this, though: If you were given the impression that this book somehow contains over a hundred retro techniques, you will be disappointed. I think some people just took the various stage ...more
Ieva Gr
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why I read it: I want to arrange a kind of retrospective I’ve once participated in for my current team and this book has the guidelines for it.

What I liked about it: It was short and on point. It detailed stages of retrospective, explained why they are needed and gave a lot of different activities for implementing each stage. That has few benefits: you can choose what activities would fit you and your team best, you don’t have to read the things that are not relevant at the moment and it is eas
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the stepping stone to running good Retrospectives. I had read a summarized form of this book in 2013 but did not come around actually reading it until early 2015 when I was exploring theory around Agile & SCRUM beyond what I could get from Organizational Coach and mentors.
Its a fairly quick read, compromised of less than 200 pages but is quite fluid, direct and simplistic in what it wants to convey for running a water tight Retrospective session, which in my mind , is one, if not the mo
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how you entered into the world of Scrum but the true value that can come out of a well planned retrospective was never explained to me. Until I read this retrospective book I used the same format I was introduced into the process with, pluses and deltas.

Esther goes beyond the "how" and into the "why". Why retrospectives are important and how finding the right activities will open gates and create bridges for your team. When you take the time to observe the team, notice potential top
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: software
I had heard such good things about this book that I ended up being a little disappointed.

Esther Derby has a specific approach for retrospectives, and she describes it well. It's not a bad read, but somehow it felt lacking anyhow. There were times when she focused on a part of her approach that I didn't feel that I needed (e.g. working agreements) and I felt like the book spent too much time in the weeds. Then there were times that she glossed over something that I'd like more advice on (like top
Vít Kotačka
Very good book on (agile) retrospective. The main focus is on the iteration retrospective, but the release and project retrospectives are mentioned too, as well as some differences between them.

What's valuable are plenty of activities and practical tips, which can be used in different phases of the retrospective. The steps are:

1) Set the stage
2) Gather the data
3) Generate insights
4) Decide what to do
5) Close the retrospective

Also, I appreciate the focus on team, different team dynamics and membe
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: agile
This is a great book to get you started with retrospectives, understanding the mental process underlying the structure of retrospectives and also to start setting up your own retrospectives depending on topic/goal. Pretty soon after reading and experimenting with the exercises mentioned in the book I was able to create my own depending on the goal for the retrospective. So while being a good cook book with several recipies (the exercises) it is also a good base to start building your skills & ex ...more
May 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately the book couldn't provide the helpful information I expected after reading so many good reviews. The authors describe lots of tasks that might be a good idea but I don't think they would work with my team because a) our retrospective are way shorter than the ones those exercises are intented for and b) not all exercises you could do with Americans somehow wouldn't work with Austrian ppl and c) some exercises try to analyze things that don't need analyzation in our case.

But maybe I
Wes Baker
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Good as a list of activities for retrospectives, but very little in here applies to a distributed team. It might be more useful to a non-distributed team.
Thom Hassler-forest
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: work-related
Some good tips for retrospective activities, but a bit to "American" in its approach to working with teams. ...more
Scott J Pearson
Techniques called “agile” comprise a more iterative approach to developing software. In many ways, it treats software as an open text instead of a fixed product. Agile development is used in most leading software shops around the world. This book treats a specific element of agile development – the retrospective. After each iteration or release, the team is gathered to discuss the last period of time and to seek improvement for the next time.

This approach is immensely helpful. It not only allows
Joshua R. Taylor
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
An inspectional read.

Perhaps a better title for this book could ready 'Agile Retrospectives: A Meeting Structure and Cookbook of Activities'.

The meeting structure I haven't tested, but seems to have some analogy with retrospectives I've taken part in. The main differences were how Derby emphasised these 'working agreements' (like principles for communicating) and had lots of small activities that helped to improve participation at the start (which I liked the sound of). Derby also had a very di
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Scrum is a pretty often heard buzzword, but how to conduct it correctly?
Retrospective is one of the most interesting and important step of the process .
To gather feedback about how the process is going, what works, what doesn't, how the team feels about the project, how the team members feel about themselves.

For the retrospective leader, there are a lot of empathy and psychology tricks that can help the meeting to run smoothly and to actually surface the problems to the team. More than that, i
TruongSinh Tran-Nguyen
The book is helpful and frustrating at the same time. Some chapters, such as (I) Helping your team inspect and adapt, (III) leading retrospective, (X) Make it so, are good, especially about the importance of emotion/psychology/dynamic (facts/data are only half of the issue).

However, those chapters describing activities are shallow; there is not so much insight from experiences and stories. It would be more helpful to have successful AND failed stories when applying such activities. The structure
Margarita Artemyan
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pm-po-agile
Unfortunately the book couldn't provide the information I expected so I ended up being disappointed.
The authors wrote about different tasks that I personally think will not work in reality. The retros we used to do are way too short (1 hour in average) and not all tasks i personally think are important (working agreement). While reading I had a feeling that the author glossed over the same topic and described details that are not that much important.
So the book might be good for people who are
Jürgen Mohr
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
I recommend this book to everyone who wants to get new ideas for retrospective activities

In their book Esther and Diana provide a huge list of different activities for shaping diversified retrospectives and keeping the retrospectives exciting and thrilling.

They start with the introduction of a general structure for retrospectives: Set the Stage - Gather Data - Generate Insights - Decide What to Do - Close the Retrospective. For all those different phases they then provide and explain multiple ac
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book should be re-titled removing 'Agile Retrospectives'. This book is about Making Good Teams Great through team self-reflection. Any team would benefit from spending time reflecting on what they do good, why they are good at it, where they can improve, and what limits them from improving. In just two days, I've read through this quick read twice, recommended it to my management team, and started brainstorming how to apply it. This is a great reference book, and does not need to be read co ...more
Carolyn Tragasz
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A practical how-to guide full of very clear directions for activities to run during team retrospectives. Clearly explains the purpose, processes, and benefits of successful retrospective meetings, and doesn't shy away from discussing the potential pit-falls. Written with a firm grasp of human nature and full of pro-tips on everything from getting quieter team members to speak up to help teams navigate major systemic changes.

My only criticism is that many of the exercises suggested need modifica
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good handbook and easy reading

This book has a lot activities to manage a retrospective meeting in software development, but I think some of techniques are not only effective in agile projects, you can use some of them in team management to give and receive feedback. Sadly the book has few examples about retrospective meetings and I expected to know more about how to manage different situations than what activities I should use.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it
The book is packed with very practical activities for running retrospectives or any other meeting that could benefit from them. In that regard, it's a very useful book.
I had the feeling though, that it is getting a bit outdated and it is certainly not catering for facilitating distributed meetings. With some good creativity and determination, some of the activities could be adapted to online meetings. So perhaps an updated version should be considered?..
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Clear and well written. This book has a calm, relaxing tone that makes it easy to read and learn.
It has practical examples of exercises you can use, so it's handy to pick up and run a retrospective for the first time.
This also makes it useful for building your own activities once you are more comfortable.

Highly recommended. This has been useful for running retros on our team, and helping us to focus and analyze so we can figure out how to improve.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
It is a good book with many different Retrospective. If you are looking for a list of Retrospectives example, this is the right book. Even though is focused on onsite teams, we can get some inspiration to do it in a remote environment.
It goes to the point and explains everything that is needed to implement the Retro.
Udaykiran Joshi
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on facilitation! Equally useful in both Agile and non - agile environments. The tips, tools and techniques are really good and very practical.

One topic I would prefer to be included is - Facilitating distributed teams as most of the teams these days are distributed and there are different challenges!
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book on agile retrospectives, doing fun things during the retrospective. I had lived through some of the exercises and another scrum master had shown how to run these games. I think reading the book cover to cover this time was a bit enlightening. The book is more of a reference though and seems too thin for the subject it covers.
Mar 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
There are a lot of great ideas in here. The one caution I would have is that the book was mostly focused on longer retros (3 or more hours), whereas my team had shorter ones (about an hour, maybe an hour and a half).

I definitely took some good things out of the book, but you'll have to work to tailor it if your retros run shorter.
Elena Astilleros
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Over and over again <—- that’s how often I read this book that I have three copies of. It’s that good.
The framework for retrospectives works every time, and the exercises can be adapted/expanded or replaced as you see fit.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018, agile
It is a great book regarding retrospective. It introduces tons of methods that can be applied in the retrospective meeting immediately. I think some case studies can help the book provide more insights.
Alex French
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Worth a quick read, nothing mind blowing.

The most interesting part is trying to think how any of these practices would go over in my organization- who would take participation seriously? What management would take output or attempts at change seriously?
Christoph Kappel
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, l-english, c-agile
I anticipated a quite different book, more about techniques and not basically a list of games and stuff you can do within a retrospectives. Anyway, reading all these games is still interesting in regards to what can be achieved and why you'd want to do that. ...more
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“Dana followed a specific structure: Set the stage. Gather data. Generate insights. Decide what to do. Close the retrospective.” 0 likes
“Then ask everyone in the room to speak. When someone doesn’t speak at the beginning of the retrospective, that person has tacit permission to remain silent for the rest of the session.” 0 likes
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