Chapter 15 is the final chapter in Fixing Your Scrum by Todd Miller and Ryan Ripley. Next week I will sum up my thoughts on the book and the lessons I have derived during the re-read.  We will also announce the next book in the Re-read Saturday series. Right now Monotasking by Staffan Nöteberg is in first place in our poll. Make sure to make your voice heard; vote now below. 

Retrospectives…I have suggested to many people many times (perhaps too often) that the sprint retrospective is the most important part of scrum. I am a huge believer that excellence has no ceiling so everyone needs to commit to continuous improvement. On the second page of the chapter, page 192, Todd and Ryan make the same point. “Each sprint retrospective is a chance for the scrum team to reaffirm its commitment to continuous improvement.” All the parts of Scrum fit together to generate the value, cherry-picking parts is a road to underperformance and frustration but the retrospective is a driver making everything work.

Todd and Ryan point out several antipatterns in this chapter, ranging from ‘few bother to attend’ to ‘skipping it.” If you have been in the agile business for any length of time you’ve seen most of the antipatterns. All of them are problematic in their own right, and the author’s advice for diagnosing and solving are important reads. One of the developing problems for retrospectives, I have seen since the book was published is trying to do retrospectives with poor tools for distributed teams. Simply put, mediocre tools that are difficult to interact with or only allow one approach lead to retrospectives that very little gets accomplished and is a leading cause for several of the anti-patterns addressed in this chapter. Failure to invest in the correct tools puts the Scrum Master into a situation that is very difficult to surmount.

Teams identifying concerns that are outside of their sphere of control or influence contribute to retrospectives becoming complaint sessions and teams abandoning the event. The facilitator needs to work on adjusting the type of retrospective. The Coach’s Corner at the end of the chapter amplifies the need for Scrum Masters to vary the approaches to retrospectives to address specific issues AND to reduce list retrospective fatigue.

One final note, examine closely any team that truly believes they shouldn’t or can’t do retrospectives. The question is whether or not they are truly a team or are just a group of individuals. If you run into this problem, you could consider a retrospective with the leaders of the team and their bosses as an approach to wrestle with is how they can become more of a team. Retrospectives are useful inside and outside of the Scrum framework. 

If you have not bought your copy — what are you waiting for? Fixing Your Scrum: Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems 

Previous Installments

Week 1: Re-read Logistics and Front Matter – 

Week 2: A Brief Introduction To Scrum, and Why Scrum Goes Bad – 

Week 3: Breaking Bad Scrum with a Value-Driven Approach – 

Week 4: The Product Owner – 

Week 5: The Product Backlog – 

Week 6: The Development Team – 

Week 7: Embracing The Scrum Master Role – 

Week 8: Management – 

Week 9:  Thinking In Sprints – 

Week 10: Sprint Planning – 

Week 11: Sprint Backlog – 

Week 12 – Reclaiming The Daily Scrum – 

Week 13: Deconstructing the Done Product Increment – 

Week 14: The Sprint Review –