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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Jan 11, 2019

Today’s topic is all about retrospectives! A retrospective is a short meeting for project teams to reflect on the most recent stage of their project, analyze their processes, and identify issues or things they can do better, moving forward.

Joining Dan Neumann today is return guest — and his colleague at AgileThought — Sam Falco. Sam is an Agile Coach and Certified Scrum Professional with an extensive background leading Agile development teams.

Dan and Sam dive deep into discussing Agile retrospectives, going over the five phases of the widely accepted framework from Esther Derby’s and Diana Larsen’s book, Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. They also discuss what makes an effective retrospective, some of the failure patterns in unsuccessful retrospectives, and some great resources on retrospectives to follow up on after this week’s show!


Key Takeaways

The 5 phases of the Agile Retrospectives framework:

  1. Set the Stage
  2. Gather Data
  3. Generate Insights
  4. Decide What to Do
  5. Close the Retrospective

What makes an effective retrospective?

  • Engage the team in ‘setting the stage’ activities (as it is imperative for the team to effectively work together)
  • Track useful and pertinent data to bring to the retrospective
  • Leverage an experimental mindset
  • Generate insights by digging deeper beyond the superficial issues by using the 5 Whys
  • Narrow down the list, make the list doable/actionable, hold people accountable, and follow through
  • Show appreciation for your teammates
  • Ask for feedback as a facilitator to improve future retrospectives

What are some failure patterns?

  • Making the cycles too short and time-cutting due to no value
  • Covering the same issues every time without any experiment to fix it
  • Turning the retrospective into an unproductive complaint session
  • Having a long list of too many things to change (which dilutes focus)
  • Declaring your hands are tied and the problem cannot be fixed


Mentioned in this Episode:

Diana Larsen

Agile Coaches’ Corner episode: “Exploring an Experimental Mindset with Adam Ulery”

5 Whys


The Thiagi Group

Fun Retrospectives

Liberating Structures


Agile Coaches’ Corner episode: “Setting Up Working Agreements with Christy Erbeck”

Rory’s Story Cubes



Dan Neumann and Sam Falco’s Book Picks

Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great, by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen

Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives — A Toolbox of Retrospectives Exercises,
by Luis Gonçalves and Ben Linders

Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won,
by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim

Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts., by Brené Brown


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