Real Retrospectives – Not Just Talking

Posted by Chris on April 15, 2008

Last Thursday, me and my colleague Andrés Taylor ran a session at Cornerstone’s Developer Summit 2008 in Stockholm. The title was Real Retrospectives – Not Just Talking. Our main point was that retrospectives are a great way of helping the team define (and refine) their own process, one that they agree on and will commit to working with. However, it is not as easy as sitting down around a table for a quick chat (more on this in a later post). To have an effective group discussion you need a structure that supports it.

In fact, with inspiration from Lawrence Lessig, we tried to condense our entire presentation into a short “refrain” (if our presentation would have been a song):

We have to constantly adapt our method to our current reality.
To adapt our method effectively, we have to think together.
Thinking together is hard, and requires focused effort.

We showed these lines several times throughout the presentation, sometimes reading them out loud, sometimes just flashing through them. And as we ended the presentation by showing the refrain a final time we also read it together which produced a few laughs. I think this worked very well and hopefully will help the audience to remember our message. All credits to Andrés for suggesting this and convincing me that it would work.

Our slides and also some pointers to further reading material are available at Blueplane’s web site. The site is in Swedish, but just look for Real Retrospectives and the links in that section. However, I do not think that the slides will be of much value if you did not attend the presentation, so I will try and cover some of what we said in future blog posts (and I am sure Andrés will do the same).

Regarding the conference, I was very happy to see a track called People Matters Too! at a very much developer oriented conference. I was even more happy to see so many people turn up for our session as well as the other sessions in this track. I am sure this will continue next year with at least a full day track like this one. See you there!


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