REVIEW - Retrospectives Antipatterns


Retrospectives Antipatterns


Aino Vonge Corry




Addison-Wesley Professional (2020)




Simon Sebright


July 2021




This is a slightly unusual book, in that it is one of antipatterns, rather than patterns. Aino explains in the preface that she has written this book as a gathering of the things that didn’t go so well in agile retrospectives, when she was working as an agile coach. She identifies 24 situations, antipatterns, where things weren’t going as hoped, and then offers a solution, what she calls a ‘Refactored Solution’.

The book is very open in that she explains from the very start that this is about things which didn’t work out well, but there is hope that she found solutions to the problems. This humility, combined with a certain sense of humour, gives the reader a comfortable feeling, and I felt very engaged with the content after establishing that relationship.

The book is divided into: Part I Structural Antipatterns, Part II Planning Antipatterns and Part III People Antipatterns. Each chapter is an antipattern, 24 in total. Each antipattern is structured into Context, General Context, Antipattern Solution, Consequences, Symptoms, Refactored Solution, Online Aspect and Personal Anecdote.

From my own experience of being a sort-of scrum master and team leader, I felt a lot of resonance with the situations described, and had a bit of a personal chuckle on many an occasion. The solutions she finds make sense, often just reading the antipattern will point you into that direction, as this is a good distillation of what actually happens in real teams.

So, my verdict is ‘recommended’, if you are in a position of authority in an agile team, or even if you are not in authority, all members are welcome to contribute, certainly you should read this book, if nothing else to confirm your beliefs, but also to question yourself, is everything going as it should?