Improving Agile Retrospectives

Author: Marc Loeffler
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 270
ISBN: 978-0134678344
Print: 0134678346
Kindle: B0785W7PM6
Audience: Developers using Agile
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Kay Ewbank


The use of retrospectives in agile development is one of the key ideas behind the methodology, and this book aims to show you how to make them more effective.

The key to the concept of retrospectives is to give teams using Agile a way to look at a project and work out how to do better going forward by making (hopefully small) changes. In this book, the author lays out a combination of guidance, details of practices that have worked for other agile teams, and suggestions for how to get more value from retrospectives.



The book opens with a chapter describing just what retrospectives are and why they're useful, with a plan on the different phases that a retrospective should follow. This is followed by a chapter on preparing retrospectives covering aspects such as who should attend, the material, time and place.


Next comes a chapter on running your first retrospective. This builds on the planning of the previous chapter and covers the stages you should go through - setting the stage, gathering data, setting out insights, and brainstorming to work out what to do next.

Having walked you through your first retrospective, Loeffler follows this with a chapter on becoming a retrospective facilitator, which sets out to answer the question:

'how do I become a good facilitator'?

This is followed by a chapter on how to keep your retrospectives varied, with a number of ideas about ways to think about retrospectives - as running an orchestra, a train journey, managing a kitchen,  and analyzing a pirate raid. It makes more sense when you read it, honest, though the suggestion that for the pirate retrospective you hand out eye patches and consider a wooden leg and a parrot does perhaps seem like going too far. There again, I'd love to see it in action in a really stuffy company.

The next few chapters look at different types of retrospectives - specifically systemic, solution focused, and distributed. The chapters describe what makes them different and useful, and give general tips on how to make them work. This section is followed by a look at alternative approaches including work retrospectives,

A useful chapter on typical problems and pitfalls is followed by a final chapter considering change management. that looks at how to use retrospectives for large scale changes to a project.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It's well written in the sense it's easy to read, and there are practical tips throughout. Some of Marc Loeffler's more off-the-wall ideas would at least make people stay awake and concentrate, and anything that keeps people interested has to be good. One drawback is the fact that once you've grasped the basic ideas, there is a certain amount of repetition.

On the whole, if you need to run retrospectives, there are some good ideas in here.


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Bare Metal C

Author: Steve Oualline
Publisher: No Starch Press
Date: August 2022
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-1718501621
Print: 1718501625
Kindle: B08YJB9BCF
Audience: C programmers
Rating: 3
Reviewer: Harry Fairhead
Bare metal C sounds exciting and very basic. Time to find out how the machine really works.

Machine Learning For Dummies, 2e (Wiley)

Author: John Paul Mueller
Publisher: For Dummies
Date: January 2021
Pages: 464
ISBN: 978-1119724018
Print: 1119724015
Kindle: B08SZHJGJW
Audience: General, but not too dumb
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James
Dummies probably need machine learning to cope...

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For recommendations of relevant books that have been reviewed by our team, see  Reading Your Way To Agile in our Programmer's Bookshelf section.






Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 December 2018 )