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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 17, 2024

This week, Dan Neumann and Justin Thatil are joined by Mike Guiler to share their continuous learning journey. They have been exploring the book Project Retrospectives written by Norman Kerth, and today, you will listen to them discussing chapters 3 to 5, where they dive deep into the role of Retrospective facilitators.  They compare Norm’s guidance against their own experience and reflect how practices presented are still be relevant today as retrospectives are more widely practiced in the industry.


Key Takeaways

  • Retrospectives: Internal or external facilitators?

    • You can be present without necessarily having to share your opinions and thoughts. 

    • An external facilitator for a Retrospective is not part of the Team but can be a well-informed outsider.

    • In the Scrum framework, very often it is the Scrum Master who facilitates the Retrospectives, but it does not have to be this way.

    • There is a conflict between a full contributor on the retrospectives and a facilitator, which is why an external facilitator can be significantly valuable.

  • Should Managers be in a Project Retrospective?

    • Managers must be allowed to be present at Retrospectives, but their involvement needs to be regulated.

  • Engineering retrospectives take time and effort.

    • Sometimes, the same feedback is received during several meetings, which is why it is important to plan retrospectives carefully considering Team Styles, the way the questions are brought forward, and any characteristics that can come up after thoughtfully observing the Team’s dynamics.

    • Identifying the most important topic for the Retrospective must be brought forward by the Team. The best achievement is when the Team expresses its needs as a result of the effective work of a facilitator (as opposed to someone dictating what the Team’s interest or need is).


Mentioned in this Episode:

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


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