I can still feel the energy and insights I gained at the retrospectives facilitators gathering, even though it happened back in February. The gathering was run at a retreat in the desert outside Phoenix, and the whole event was organised as an Open Space, creating so many stimulating and informative discussions that it was impossible to keep up with all of them. I learned a lot, some of it about: facilitation, thinking about puzzles, the Zeigarnik effect, dealing with curve balls, the power of story-telling, “moments of madness”, ORID techniques, “explorers, shoppers, vacationers, and prisoners”, the Art of Possibility and self-fulfilling prophecies, celebrating what's right with the world, and appreciative inquiry. Phew!
I was delighted to be able to attend the gathering and touched by the warmth and openness of all the wonderful people I met in Phoenix: people like Linda Rising and her husband who showed me such incredible hospitality, Boris Gloger whose wicked sense of humour is so endearing, Jean Tabaka who was such good company, Norm Kerth whose work created the retrospectives movement, Heather Nelson who asked the difficult questions that only a talented PhD student can, Pam Rostal whose inspiration has had such an effect on her students, III whose deep voice matches his deep insight, and many others. (Plus the wonderful people who were also there that I knew from other occasions, such as Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, Rachel Davies, John Suzuki, Laurent Bossavit, Tim Mackinnon and Richard Watt...)
I have no doubt that retrospectives are an effective tool for increasing productivity and quality in software development teams. Better yet they can be a vehicle for introducing communication, interaction and humanity back into our workplaces... and that can't be bad.