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Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great Paperback – Aug 5 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (Aug. 5 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977616649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977616640
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

""Two of the software industry's leading facilitators have taken their many years of retrospective experience and distilled them into an approachable reference for agile team leaders. For all of the self-made facilitators out there who have been winging it, this book will provide a solid foundation to improve the effectiveness of your iteration, release, and project retrospectives."" --Dave Hoover, Lead Consultant, Agile Practices Obtiva Corp.""Esther Derby and Diana Larsen have written the definitive book on agile retrospectives. You don't have to be an agile team to take advantage of their book; you only have to want to improve. Follow their advice and your teams will be more successful."" --Johanna Rothman, Author, speaker and consultant, Rothman Consulting Group, Inc.

About the Author

Esther Derby is one of the rare breed of consultants who blends the technical and managerial issues with the people-side issues. She is well known for her work helping teams grow to new levels of productivity and is recognized as one of the world's leaders in retrospective facilitation. Esther's articles have appeared in Better Software (formerly STQE), Software Development, Cutter IT Journal, and CrossTalk. She writes regular columns for stickyminds.com and Computerworld.com, and publishes the quarterly newsletter, insights. Esther is also a host and session leader at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference. Diana Larsen partners with leaders of software development projects to improve project performance, support and sustain change, and build collaborative workplaces. Diana serves on the boards of the Agile Alliance and the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference, participates in planning for the XP 200x and Agile 200x conferences, and speaks at several software conferences every year. She's written articles for Software Development, At Work, Cutter IT Journal, and Cutter's Executive Update and e-Advisor series. Diana is a founder of the Annual International Retrospective Facilitators Gathering.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Meszaros on Aug. 6 2006
Format: Paperback
I have been facilitating project retrospectives since Norm Kerth's book "Project Retrospectives" first came out. I've applied many of those ideas to the bi-weekly retrospectives I've been facilitating for agile project teams over the last six years. The exercises in Norm Kerth's book are great but tend to be focused on the multi-day end-of-project retrospectives and are therefore too long for bi-weekly retrospectives. Esther and Diane's exercises are much shorter and many can fit into the 1 hour retrospectives that we tend to use on agile projects. Esther and Diane also provide a model for structuring the retrospective to get the maximum effect from the time invested as well as including some exercises to help the retrospective facilitator get feedback on their facilitation techniques. No agile retrospective facilitator should be without this book!
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Format: Paperback
I recommend this book: be aware that it's CDN$ 19.75 and has 200 pages, so don't expect a dictionary.

In agile software development, you can have an ad hoc retrospection after an iteration, that's good.
The book gives you a good sense of what to think when preparing, leading and repeating retrospective meetings. That makes the purpose of retrospection to go beyond a simple "what went good; what went wrong" meeting.

The book does not guarantee you'll make the best retros in the world (after all, it's you that lead the meeting), but it's a really good start for thoughts on that subject.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 48 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Take your team to a new level with this book! Aug. 1 2006
By Lisa Crispin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My agile team has used retrospectives for years and thought we were pretty good at them. The activities and ideas in this well-written, well-organized book take our retrospectives to a whole new level. Now if we can't remember what we did in the previous two weeks (it's surprising how poor our memories can be!), or are stumped for ideas on how to address a prickly issue, we can just turn to the book for a way to jump-start a beneficial change.

I had no idea there were so many different approaches to getting value via retrospectives. The activities are all simple, and illustrated with many figures and examples. Even if you're not very experienced at leading these types of meetings, the book will give you confidence.

The authors also explain when and why to do different types of retrospectives. For example, I hadn't thought of having project retrospectives for our agile team, since we already have iteration retrospectives, but now I can see how they can be managed for good effect. Most importantly, the book explains how to use the information and ideas produced in a retrospective to effect real change. It's easy to get complacent and not strive to do better, and this book will help your team be proactive.

The book's organization makes it a good reference guide too. Anytime your team is in a rut or having a problem, you could pick an activity out of this book to kick start things. I love user-friendly books such as this one.
56 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Reality Check March 5 2007
By R. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After the first 100 pages, I was ready to give this book a single star. Then it made its way back by producing some stimulus in the center of the book, basically talking about some techniques for eliciting and then analyzing feedback (made it back to a 4, 5 is ludicrous just from the content perspective, this thing is thin in every sense of the word). But then, it fell back to a 3 because ultimately the many examples are laid out as if they were patterns, but there is little to no structure. Finally, the conclusion section goes back to some of the silliness of the beginning. What I am referring to as silliness is the constant enveloping of process suggestions with new agey psychobabble. I found that 80% of the time, this additional stuff was noise.

Ultimately, I was left convinced (as probably all who have done iterative could easily be) that retrospectives are a good thing, but a strong conviction that they could be done better than what is being espoused here. There are a few good ideas, and the overall presentation is good. That's all.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
It's not hype; their advice works. Sept. 18 2006
By Norman L. Kerth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Diana and Esther tell us how to make good teams great. It's not hype; their advice works!

From the first few pages we know the authors are speaking from their vast experience, sharing knowledge on how to install iterative retrospectives in a team's process. Their book is written in an easy-to-read manner and leaves nothing out: it includes examples from real retrospectives, a theory of iterative retrospective design as well as a number of carefully designed exercises.

I'm not surprised that the authors could make clear such a difficult topic, blending insight from a number of fields and writing specifically for software teams. For more than a decade, Esther and Diana have been teaching the techniques and helping leading edge companies from all over the world implement retrospectives.

This is a must read book for anyone serious about making the Agile approach work, and then work better and better. Why? Because an Agile approach deployed right out of the book or course is likely to be a poor fit for your specific environment. Agile needs to be fine-tuned for your teams strengths, skills, challenges and goals. The iterative retrospective is the widely proven technique to make these crucial adjustments. There is no better book on the topic.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Simply Excellent! Sept. 22 2006
By Philip R. Heath - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have yet to regret a purchase from the Pragmatic Bookshelf. The books are clear and concise with pretty easy to implement action plans, and this one is no exception.

If you are like me, you have found that traditional "lessons learned" meetings after projects were held rarely, and a rarer number of these actually generated anything of any impact on future work. In some of my readings about Agile Software Development, I read that Agile Teams have retrospectives regularly with each iteration. I thought this was interesting, but didn't really know what to do. Enter this book.

The authors do a great job of outlining how the process should work and why each of the phases of are important. The give good coverage of

* Setting the Stage

* Gathering Information

* Generating Insights

* Deciding What to Do

* Closing the Retrospective

Not only do they explain the general process, but they give a fairly extensive list of activities to use for each phase with suggestions about which ones work in different situations. After reading this book, I was able to immediately turn around and facilitate a rertrospective for my team's latest project release.

This book is about all that you could ask for. The material is rich, but the amount of material is fairly short and quick to read. It is very focused and clear on how to take action. I would recommend investing in this book to anyone who wants to do a better job of *truly* learning from past project experience.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great material for mixing up end-of-iteration retrospectives Sept. 2 2006
By David W. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Since Norm Kerth's seminal book on Retrospectives, development cycles have gotten shorter, and many teams have gone Agile. Where Norm focuses largely on big, end-of-project retrospectives, Diana and Esther close the gap, providing an excellent set of exercises that can be done in short periods time (say, at the end of an iteration), with or without a formal facilitator. (If retrospectives are new for your team, facilitation can help you get started. If you're going to do regular retrospective, you'll probably want to learn to self-facilite.)

The healthiest team I was on did regular, short retrospectives, both for process adjustment and to keep small issues from simmering and turning in to bigger issues. Regular retros can get repetitive; the exercises in this book can help mix things up.


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