Review: Esther Derby & Diana Larsen – Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great

I like feedback. It’s great. Totally awesome. Sorry, let me untrumpify that: I enjoy feedback a lot. I think it is a great tool to learn things and to adjust your course. And it helps you improve. At my job, we try to continuously improve ourselves and our projects. One means of getting feedback, is through retrospectives. And to improve those, I decided to read this book.

Brief Recap

What are retrospectives for? How can you be a good facilitator? What are tips and tricks? That’s exactly what this book provides. The book also lists a bunch of activities and when you can use them in your retro’s. Is your project ending? Are you with lots of people? How long should the activities take? Mrs Derby and mrs Larsen try to help you understand that.


My Two Cents

This book is great. There’s some tips and tricks for how you can facilitate a retrospective. There’s a list of activities you can do in retro’s and when you can do them. There’s examples for all the activities. It’s a great reference list.

The first chapters are good to read once, but they contain basic knowledge and common sense. They explain the steps of a retrospective and what the facilitator’s role is. How do you make sure everyone in the team is heard? That kind of stuff is mentioned in those chapters. Like I said, good to read once, but not worth re-reading as much as the activities.


I’m not going to rate this book 5 stars because I see it more as a reference list. I wouldn’t fully re-read it. However, it completely deserves 4 stars. The activities in this book provide inspiration to improve your retrospectives. Don’t take my word for it, read about it yourself!

Now that we are talking about feedback, what do you think about retrospectives? Or do you just like feedback as well? Let me know in the comment section!


3 thoughts on “Review: Esther Derby & Diana Larsen – Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great

Add yours

  1. Fully agree with you about this book. It’s a great reference with lots of ideas for planning retrospectives, setting an open culture, facilitating retrospectives, and keeping them fresh.

    If you’re interested in retrospective exercises, I maintain a toolbox of exercises at

    I went through some of the other posts on agile books, like how your share your thoughts and experiences Koen!


    1. Thanks Ben! I checked out your site and bookmarked it. Great initiative! I like! And thanks for the feedback. You can expect my feedback on your website soon, as I’ll go through it soon for inspiration for an upcoming retrospective.


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