Friday, November 07, 2008

Agile Retrospectives: Book Review

As promised over on Twitter, I'm blogging about one of the books I'm reading right now — Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. My scout troop has gotten really good at doing a simple evaluation called an SSC (Start, Stop, Continue) after each major activity, but we hadn't been doing much with the information. I've also been thinking that my team at work doesn't do a very good job of evaluating our previous activity to find way to improve. This book seemed like just the ticket to help with both problems. When I started reading, I knew I'd picked the right book. While it's oriented toward an agile development team, the concepts and activities all look like they'll work well with a group of system administrators or a Boy Scout troop. The text is engaging and includes lots of examples. It's clear that Esther Derby and Diana Larsen (the authors) have a lot of experience in leading retrospectives. The first part of the book lays out how (and to a degree why) to run retropsectives, but the remainder provides a number of activities to use in actually running them. This catalog of activities is the key to the books usefulness. I've already started to see ways to use and modify the activities both in formal retrospectives and in shorter, informal evaluations. I'm already having some of my scouts read portions of the book to help them in their leadership roles. If you want to start holding team retrospectives, or want to improve the retrospectives you're already holding, this is the book for you. I'm so impressed by it, that I'm thinking about picking up another book by Esther Derby, Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management (Pragmatic Programmers), because I want to see what she has to say about leadership and management.

No comments: