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Improving Agile Retrospectives: Helping Teams Become More Efficient

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  • Copyright 2018
  • Dimensions: 6" x 9"
  • Pages: 272
  • Edition: 1st
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-467839-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-467839-9

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

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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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