Foreword – Retrospectives Antipatterns

Foreword

In this book, Aino tells the story of how our relationship began. However, there’s more to the story. There’s a continually unfolding story about how our connection has continued, deepened, and matured through the ensuing years. Over time Aino has become more than someone I’ve mentored. She has become a highly respected colleague and friend.

Aino knows that, at times, I can feel overprotective about the practice of retrospectives facilitation. As an author and early proponent of team continuous learning and improvement, I want team meetings to deliver these valuable outcomes, every time. I encourage team leaders to invest in setting aside focused time for team retrospectives. I want teams (and their organizations) to receive ever-increasing benefits from their retrospective practice.

Unfortunately, I often hear stories of retrospectives-in-name-only, retrospectives held primarily to check the “retro box,” or retrospectives limited to listing the answers to two or three questions, resulting in few if any actionable plans. The storytellers generally follow on with comments about teams that feel these meetings are a waste of time. I can’t blame them. Of course they feel that way. Those meetings take up time without providing the team with the benefits promised. In my overprotective state, I want to deny the name. Whatever these meeting are, I refute the idea that they are my idea of retrospectives.

As a consequence, I’m eager to engage with colleagues who communicate the word about leading effective retrospectives. It helps me know that I’m not alone. These days, whenever I see a conference or other event program with Aino Corry presenting on a retrospectives-related topic, I’m thrilled. I know I can relax. Those audiences (as well as the teams she works more closely with) will receive valuable information from Aino about the path to team improvement. I am happy to recommend her trainings to anyone who asks.

That’s why I’m so happy to recommend this book. In it, Aino has shared a robust, curated list of antipatterns and how to avoid them. (And they will be familiar to every seasoned facilitator. I’m intimately acquainted with most of them.) And she has shared so much more than tips and techniques. If you read this book carefully, you will find a gold mine—with precious nuggets including her personal experiences, effective facilitation resources, and pointers for extracting yourself and your team when you’re stuck in an antipattern.

Pick up this book. Study these antipatterns. Identify the ones that show up most often for you. Then make a plan for your next retrospective to include Aino’s alternative solutions and improve your consequences. You’ll be glad you did.

Best wishes for your future retrospectives,

Diana Larsen

Coauthor, Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great

Cofounder and Chief Connector, Agile Fluency Project LLC