Improving Agile Retrospectives: Helping Teams Become More Efficient

Improving Agile Retrospectives: Helping Teams Become More Efficient

by Marc Loeffler

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Overview

Agile retrospectives help you get to the root of your real problems, so you can solve them quickly and effectively. They’re the cornerstone of a successful continuous improvement process, and one of your best tools for triggering positive cultural change.

In Improving Agile Retrospectives, leading agile coach/trainer Marc Loeffler combines practical guidance, proven practices, and innovative approaches for maximizing the value of retrospectives for your team—and your entire organization. You can apply his powerful techniques in any project, agile or otherwise. These techniques offer exceptional value wherever continuous improvement is needed: from “lessons-learned” workshops in traditional project management to enterprise-wide change management.

Loeffler’s detailed, results-focused examples help you recognize and overcome common pitfalls, adapt retrospectives to your unique needs, and consistently achieve tangible results. Throughout, he integrates breakthrough concepts, such as using experimentation and learning from system thinking. He presents small ideas that make a big difference—because they’re deeply grounded in real experience.

• Learn from failures and successes, and make good things even better
• Master facilitation techniques that help you achieve your goals (and have fun doing it)
• Prepare your retrospective so it runs smoothly
• Practice techniques for generating actionable insights
• Keep your retrospectives fresh and interesting
• Perform retrospectives that address the entire system, not just your team
• Focus on your “better future” with solution-focused retrospectives
• Learn how to avoid typical pitfalls when facilitating retrospectives
• Lead retrospectives across multiple distributed teams
• Use retrospectives to support large-scale change

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780134678344
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Publication date: 01/16/2018
Series: Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn) Series
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 751,583
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Marc Loeffler is a keynote speaker, author, and agile coach. Before encountering agile methods and principles in 2006, he was working as a traditional project manager for companies like Volkswagen AG and Siemens AG. His passion is to help teams implement agile frameworks like Scrum and XP and to transform our world of work. Marc has a passion for helping teams that are struggling with agile transitions and overcoming dysfunctional behavior. He loves to generate new insights by approaching common problems from the other side and trying to wreak havoc on the process deliberately.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jutta Eckstein xv
Preface xix
Chapter 1 Retrospectives 101 1
1.1 What Is a Retrospective? 1
1.2 New Year’s Eve Retrospective 6
1.3 The Retrospective Phase Model 8
1.3.1 Phase 1: Set the Stage 9
1.3.2 Phase 2: Check Hypothesis 12
1.3.3 Phase 3: Gather Data 13
1.3.4 Phase 4: Generate Insights 16
1.3.5 Phase 5: Define Experiments 17
1.3.6 Phase 6: Closing 19
1.4 Finding Activities for Each of the Phases 22
1.4.1 Agile Retrospectives Book 23
1.4.2 Retromat 23
1.4.3 Retrospective Wiki 24
1.4.4 Tasty Cupcakes 24
1.4.5 Gamestorming 25
1.5 The Prime Directive 26
Chapter 2 Preparing Retrospectives 31
2.1 Preparation 31
2.1.1 What Period of Time Should Be Discussed? 31
2.1.2 Who Should Take Part? 32
2.1.3 Is There a Topic? 33
2.2 The Right Time, the Right Place 34
2.3 The Right Material 36
2.3.1 The Right Markers 36
2.3.2 The Right Sticky notes 37
2.3.3 The Right Flipchart Paper 38
2.4 Food 39
2.5 The Agenda 40
Chapter 3 The First Retrospective 43
3.1 Preparation 43
3.2 Set the Stage: Car Comparison 45
3.3 Gather Data 46
3.4 Generate Insights: 5 Whys 49
3.5 Define Next Experiments: Brainstorming 50
3.6 Closing: ROTI 53
Chapter 4 The Retrospective Facilitator 55
4.1 How Do I Become a Good Facilitator? 55
4.1.1 Respect Different Communication Styles 58
4.1.2 Paraphrasing 59
4.1.3 Support Participants 59
4.1.4 Stacking 60
4.1.5 Encourage 61
4.1.6 Feedback Emotion 61
4.1.7 Intended Silence 62
4.1.8 Listen for Common Ground 63
4.2 Visual Facilitation 63
4.2.1 The 1×1 of Visual Structure 64
4.3 Visual Retrospectives 71
4.3.1 The Speedboat Retrospective 71
4.3.2 Trading Cards 74
4.3.3 Perfection Game 76
4.3.4 Force Field Analysis 78
4.3.5 Sources of Inspiration for Visual Facilitation ...80
4.4 Internal or External 81
4.4.1 Tips for Internal Facilitators 83
4.4.2 External Facilitators 85
4.5 After the Retro Is Before the Retro 87
Chapter 5 From the Metaphor to the Retrospective 91
5.1 The Orchestra Retrospective 93
5.1.1 Set the Stage 94
5.1.2 Gather Data 95
5.1.3 Generate Insights 97
5.1.4 Define Experiments and Hypothesis 98
5.1.5 Closing 99
5.2 The Soccer Retrospective 99
5.2.1 Preparation 100
5.2.2 Set the Stage 100
5.2.3 Gather Data 101
5.2.4 Generating Insights 102
5.2.5 Define Next Experiments and Hypothesis 102
5.2.6 Closing 103
5.3 The Train Retrospective 103
5.3.1 Set the Stage 103
5.3.2 Gather Data 104
5.3.3 Generate Insights 105
5.3.4 Define Experiments and Hypothesis 106
5.3.5 Closing 107
5.4 The Kitchen Retrospective 107
5.4.1 Set the Stage 107
5.4.2 Gather Data 108
5.4.3 Generate Insights 109
5.4.4 Define Experiments and Hypothesis 111
5.4.5 Closing 111
5.5 The Pirate Retrospective 111
5.5.1 Set the Stage 112
5.5.2 Gather Data 113
5.5.3 Generate Insights 114
5.5.4 Define Experiments and Hypothesis 115
5.5.5 Closing 116
Chapter 6 Systemic Retrospectives 119
6.1 Systems 120
6.1.1 Static and Dynamic 122
6.1.2 Complicated and Complex 122
6.2 System Thinking 124
6.2.1 Causal Loop Diagrams 125
6.2.2 Current Reality Tree 137
6.2.3 Limitations of System Thinking 142
6.3 Complexity Thinking 143
6.3.1 Martie—The Management 3.0 Model 144
6.3.2 The ABIDE Model 147
Chapter 7 Solution-Focused Retrospectives 155
7.1 The Solution-Focused Approach 156
7.1.1 Problem Talk Creates Problems, Solution Talk Creates Solutions 156
7.1.2 Focus on the Better Future 157
7.1.3 No Problem Happens All the Time; There Are Always Exceptions That Can Be Utilized 158
7.1.4 If It Works, Do More of It 159
7.1.5 If It’s Not Working, Do Something Different 160
7.1.6 Small Steps Can Lead to Big Changes 161
7.1.7 Focus on Strength and Skills 161
7.1.8 Understand and Trust That Each Person Is an Expert in His or Her Own Situation 162
7.1.9 Keep the Attitude of Not Knowing 162
7.1.10 Be Patient and Confident 163
7.1.11 The Prime Directive of Retrospectives 164
7.2 A Solution-Focused Retrospective in Five Steps 165
7.2.1 Opening 165
7.2.2 Set Goals 167
7.2.3 Find Meaning 170
7.2.4 Initiate Action 172
7.2.5 Check Results 175
7.2.6 A Brief, Solution-Focused Retrospective 176
Chapter 8 Distributed Retrospectives 179
8.1 Forms of Distributed Retrospectives 179
8.1.1 Multiple Distributed Teams 179
8.1.2 Teams with Singly Distributed Employees 183
8.1.3 Scattered Teams 185
8.2 The Right Tools 186
8.2.1 Web Whiteboard 187
8.2.2 Stormz Hangout 188
8.2.3 Lino 189
8.3 General Tips for Distributed Retrospectives 190
8.3.1 Keep It Short 190
8.3.2 Stay within the Timeframe 190
8.3.3 Use Stacking 190
8.3.4 Prepare the Participants 190
8.3.5 Use Communication Tools Effectively 191
8.3.6 Meet Regularly 191
Chapter 9 Alternative Approaches 193
9.1 Work Retrospectives 193
9.1.1 Set the Stage 194
9.1.2 Gather Data 194
9.1.3 Work Phase 195
9.1.4 Experiences 195
9.2 Fortune Cookie Retrospectives 196
9.3 Powerful Questions 198
Chapter 10 Typical Problems and Pitfalls 201
10.1 Poor Preparation 201
10.2 A Lot of Discussions but No Results 202
10.2.1 Conflicting Opinions 202
10.2.2 Indecision 204
10.2.3 Lack of a Clear Time Frame 205
10.3 Too Many Results 206
10.4 Disinterest in (Further) Improvement 207
10.4.1 Improvements Were Never Implemented 208
10.4.2 Improvements Have No Effect 208
10.4.3 The Team Was Not Given Enough Time 209
10.5 Focus on the Negative 209
10.6 Focus on Factual Topics 210
Chapter 11 Change Management 215
11.1 Agile Change Management 216
11.2 Initiating Change Processes 217
11.2.1 Set the Stage 217
11.2.2 Gather Data 219
11.2.3 Generate Insights 220
11.2.4 Next Experiments 221
11.2.5 Closing 223
11.3 Accompanying Change Processes 224
11.3.1 Set the Stage 224
11.3.2 Check Hypotheses 224
11.3.3 Gather Data 225
11.3.4 Generate Insights 225
11.3.5 Define Next Experiments 226
11.3.6 Closing 228
Index 231

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