Getting Value Out Of Agile Retrospectives

Esther Derby writes in the foreword: ” Effective retrospectives help teams short-circuit ingrained patterns of thinking. They broaden each team member’s perspective, and help teams think, learn, decide, and act together”. Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives is a free e-book written by Luis Gonçalves and Ben Linders that offers guidance to help Agile and Scrum teams make the most out of retrospectives.

This book starts by discussing “what a retrospective is and why you do retrospectives. The main part of the book contains practical exercises that you can use to lead retrospectives with your teams. Each exercise is supported with the “what” and “why” of retrospectives, the business value and benefits that they can bring you and advice for introducing and improving retrospectives.

Getting Value Out Of Agile Retrospectives

This is a book that I naturally recommend to every people that has to run retrospectives, but also to every project manager that wants to facilitate meetings to solve issues in software development projects.

Reference: Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives – A Toolbox of Retrospective Exercises, Luis Gonçalves and Ben Linders, LeanPub. You can download this book from


Insanity, it’s said, is doing the same things and expecting different results. If you want to deliver more value to your customers, you have to change the way that you do your work. That is why many agile teams use retrospectives: to help them solve problems and improve themselves!

Usually humans do not stop to reflect during most projects. This is not a natural activity, which is why it’s so important to formalize a behavior and make it a ritual. Rituals bring people together, allowing them to focus on what is important and to acknowledge significant events or accomplishments. It is extremely important not to use a retrospective to identify purely negative parts of a project. Every project offers positive outcomes and these should be celebrated like any other small victory.

Without a good facilitator, a retrospective most likely will be a disaster. Becoming a good facilitator requires experience, training and a lot of self-study. Before starting a retrospective, the facilitator should have a clear idea about what he/she wants to get out of that session.

Teams sometimes come up with actions to change the way they collaborate and communicate with current and future customers. Often times, they also want them to change the way they interact with the team, for instance to have them attend sprint reviews or how they provide feedback on the product. It is up to the customers to change their behavior if they discover that it would be more effective; it’s not for the team to decide. Telling this to a team as a coach doesn’t always make you popular but it’s how it works. You can influence people but you cannot change people directly; people can only change themselves!