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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.

May 24, 2024

This week, Dan Neumann and Justin Thatil are joined by Mike Guiler to continue their discussion of Norman Kerth’s book Project Retrospectives. In this episode, they dive deep into chapters 6, 7, and 8, analyzing some of the exercises and techniques described in the book and the immense value of learning to plan retrospectives for them to be fruitful. They close this conversation by addressing “postmortem” retrospectives and the importance of unpacking a failed project.


Key Takeaways

  • Chapter 6: Exercises and Techniques:

    • There are many ways to facilitate retrospectives and this chapter describes several intentional exercises meant to shake things up.

    • Norm addresses three essential parts of a retrospective: the readying, the past, and the future. The readying is meant to allow team members to prepare and bring forward relevant topics.

    • Teams often want to save time in retrospectives by skipping them or shortening their length. They do that because they find them ineffective and do not see the value in investing time and energy.

    • A Scrum Master must invest in making retrospectives into a much more impactful event for the team.

  • About facilitating better retrospectives:

    • Retrospectives need to take a longer time (three hours).

    • There needs to be “emotional freedom” in the group’s atmosphere to facilitate and enable members to participate; it’s crucial to be aware of different personalities and how they engage with others.

    • The topic’s sensitivity during the retrospective needs to be considered.

  • The postmortem retrospectives: When a project fails:

    • Be conscientious about not injecting your perspective; sometimes, it can do more harm.

    • An idea must be presented along with its benefits, strategy, and plan, including the costs and reasons why it is helpful to implement it.


Mentioned in this Episode:

Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews, by Norman L. Kerth

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


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