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I love retrospectives!  Retrospectives are fun!  It’s like you’re getting a second chance at life, and you can do better at living the next life.  Well maybe that is an exaggeration.  Haha!

In Tolkien’s stories we see a lot of retrospectives happening at various points in the timeline.  We see people coming together, talking about what has happened and what they should do next.

There was the Council of Elrond, where they made that surprising decision to rest the fate of Middle Earth into the hands of a Hobbit.  I think that decision is grounded on the fact that Bilbo proved to be very resilient to the influence of The One Ring.

There was the discussion they had after the Battle of Helm’s Deep, they reviewed the armies they have defeated, what enemies they have to deal with, where Frodo is, being an ally to Gondor (which Theoden was not so keen on doing because he was bitter that Gondor didn’t help Rohan).  And then they made the decision to wait for Gondor to light the beacons before heading out to war (very anti-Agile of Theoden, in my opinion).  Note that before they had this meeting they celebrated first their victory and being able to go back to Edoras.  I learned that this is very important in having retrospectives, set the stage first so everyone is focused on reviewing the past and talking about the way forward.

And then finally we see the meeting they had after the Battle of Minas Tirith.  Pretty much the same discussion happening; they reviewed what they had just won, what Sauron has left for an army, guessing where Frodo is (from the intel shared by Faramir), and what they can do to finally put an end to Sauron.

So yeah, retrospectives are fun!  Our retrospectives for our projects may not be as exciting as deciding how to deploy armies and battle ogres but they can be equally interesting.  The Scrum Master is responsible for guiding the team to have an excellent discussion during retrospectives.  It is often the Scrum Master who will point out details and issues encountered during the previous sprint.

The retrospective meeting is one of the key meetings you have when you are doing Scrum.  Being Agile means you have a cycle of inspect and adapt.  And so you are able to handle change in requirements and deliver a product which is really useful.  You do the inspecting when you have retrospective meetings.  You also talk about how you would adapt during the retrospective meeting.  That is why it is so important.  No matter how boring it may get after several sprints, you must still do a retrospective meeting.   The Scrum Master should make it interesting and refreshing to motivate the team to really have a good discussion.

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In Chromedia we have retrospectives for every sprint for every project.  We have developer retrospective meetings to talk about our development process in general (applied across all projects).  We even have company wide retrospectives to discuss about all things concerning the whole company.

Remember, inspect and adapt.  The key to being Agile.  They key to success.

And so our journey in Middle Earth ends.  I am looking forward to write to you again from a galaxy far far away…


Jason Coppage, Co-Founder