Computing Reviews

Retrospectives antipatterns
Corry A., Addison-Wesley, Boston, MA, 2021. 234 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: 09/13/21

The book is a collection of antipatterns that can emerge while conducting retrospectives in agile environments. The antipatterns discussed are from the author’s experiences. The collection includes structural, planning, and people antipatterns.

The preface introduces retrospectives, patterns, and antipatterns. It explains the classification of antipatterns into structural, planning, and people. Each of the 24 chapters describes one antipattern. For each antipattern, the chapter includes a short description, context, the solution, symptoms for identifying, possible consequences, a refactored solution, considerations for online activities, and a section on the author’s personal experience.

Part 1 has eight structural antipatterns. These patterns are related to the structure of the retrospective. The “wheel of fortune” antipattern is a situation in which the team comes to a conclusion based on symptoms rather than problems. The team that ignores the prime directive of the retrospective forms a “prime directive ignorance” antipattern. The “in the soup” antipattern is when team members try to change something, which they cannot. Team sidetracking is an “overtime” antipattern. A team divided into small groups forms a “small talk” antipattern. A team that votes on what to do forms an “unfruitful democracy” antipattern. A team thinking that retrospectives are not needed forms a “nothing to talk about” antipattern. A team with team members waiting to vote forms a “political vote” antipattern.

Part 2 has eight planning-related antipatterns. The team members themselves decide who attends, forming a “team, really?” antipattern. A facilitator choosing many roles forms a “do it yourself” antipattern. A very busy team forms a “death by postponement” antipattern. A rushing facilitator forms a “get it over with” antipattern. An unprepared facilitator forms a “disregard for preparation” antipattern. Tired team members form a “suffocating” antipattern. In the “curious manager” antipattern, the facilitator refuses to share the goings-on with the manager. In the “peek-a-boo” antipattern, team members do not show their faces.

Part 3 covers people-related antipatterns. Team members who find activities ridiculous form a “disillusioned facilitator” antipattern. A team member trying to speak all the time forms a “loudmouth” antipattern. A completely quiet team member forms a “silent one” antipattern. A team member with a negative attitude forms a “negative one” antipattern. An entire team of negative attitudes forms a “negative team” antipattern. Mistrust among team members forms a “lack of trust” antipattern. Cultural differences among team members forms a “different cultures” antipattern. A completely silent team forms a “dead silence” antipattern.

Most of the book is descriptive and includes short stories. Diagrams and various agile methods are presented as refactored solution examples. In academia, the book can be included as part of a software management course. Readers interested in knowing more about agile methods and practices can use the references given throughout.

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Reviewer:  Maulik A. Dave Review #: CR147353

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