Retrospectives as a tool for change management

Jutta Eckstein and Diana Larsen

Workshop: 90 minutes


Retrospectives are known as a tool for learning and improving over time. In more traditional projects, retrospectives are scheduled at the end of the project, in agile projects at the end of each and every iteration. Many of us have experienced retrospectives as great means for detecting good, bad and missing practices and as a handle to make tacit knowledge explicit (for the good practices) and to define actions in order to deal with the bad and the missing practices.

We’ve used retrospectives in all these ways, yet as well as a tool for introducing change in a corporation. The change introduced might be the switch to agile, but it could be as well a change in the organizational structure or anything else. Using retrospectives for starting a change, enables the change agent to respect the existing experience, to look for patterns that should be kept despite the change because they’re part of the organization’s (or team’s) DNA (also known as fractals) or to ensure that there is something attractive in this change for everyone (known as attractors). Typically retrospectives are used to learn from the past joint experience. In contrast, retrospectives as a tool for change management (a) isn’t necessarily based on a -joint experience and (b) is meant to start something new and thus not solely focused on incremental improvement.

In this session we want to explore the different possibilities, but also the challenges and still missing links in using retrospective as a tool for change management.

Short Bio of Jutta

Jutta Eckstein is an independent coach, consultant and trainer from Braunschweig, Germany. Her know-how in agile processes is based on over fifteen years’ experience in project and product development. She has helped many teams and organizations all over the world to make the transition to an agile approach. She has a unique experience in applying agile processes within medium-sized to large distributed mission-critical projects. This is also the topic of her books ‘Agile Software Development in the Large’ and ‘Agile Software Development with Distributed Teams’. She is a member of the AgileAlliance and a member of the program committee of many different European and American conferences in the area of agile development, object-orientation and patterns. In 2011, Jutta has been elected into the Top 100 most important persons of the German IT.

Short Bio of Diana

Diana Larsen consults with leaders and teams to create work processes where innovation, inspiration, and imagination flourish. With more than fifteen years of experience working with technical professionals, Diana brings focus to the human side of organizations, teams and projects. She activates and strengthens her clients’ proficiency in shaping an environment for productive teams and thriving in times of change. Diana co-authored Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great! She publishes articles and write occasional blog posts at “Partnerships and Possibilities”. Past Chair (2007-2010) and current board member of the Agile Alliance Board of Directors, she co-founded the “Agile Open Northwest” conference and the international “Retrospective Facilitators Gathering”. Diana discovers solutions and possibilities where others find only barriers and obstacles. Get more information about this session on IdeaScale.