BONUS: Module 3, Retrospectives Master Class with David Horowitz

This is the third of a multi-part series on Agile Retrospectives with David Horowitz who’s the CEO of Retrium, a company that builds tools to help you facilitate remote retrospectives. The links to Retrium’s Retrospectives Academy below are affiliate links, if you prefer to follow a link that takes you to Retrium’s site, but does not give anything back to the podcast, you can. Just follow this link: On the other hand, if you want to help us grow this podcast, you can follow the links below or this link to Retrium’s Retrospective’s Academy.

When we start facilitating retrospectives (I still remember the first ones I facilitated), we are often focused on getting the structure right, and we may forget that we can uncover insights at any time during the retrospective. This module is all about increasing our chances of facilitating a productive and effective retrospective. 

Team Norms, a productivity and engagement tool for Scrum Masters

The first tip David shares with us is to set the stage for great conversations with team norms, agreements we respect during the retrospective because we want to learn, and improve through the use of retrospectives. 

In this segment, David shares an app that he’s found useful in retrospectives: The Decide Now app. In this segment, we also refer to the episodes on Remote Work here on the Scrum Master Toolbox podcast.

When should a Scrum Master intervene and when to step back as a facilitator?

One of the hardest things to do well in a Retrospective is to intervene when the conversation is entering a rabbit hole and step back when that same rabbit hole may be the start of a critical insight for the team. Obviously, we can’t know always when to intervene and when to step back. And that’s ok. But there are things we can pay attention to that will help us improve our facilitation game greatly. In this segment, we talk about the 4 jobs of a facilitator, and how to intervene in a way that brings a rabbit hole back to the “great insight” track that will help the team progress. 

In this segment, we refer to the book The facilitator’s guide to participatory decision making, a book that David often refers to when trying to improve his facilitation approaches for Agile Retrospectives and other collaboration meetings with the team.

The top 10 challenges for Scrum Masters facilitating an Agile Retrospective

David shares his view on what are the top 10 challenges for Scrum Masters when facilitating an open discussion during a retrospective. You can read through the whole list here. In this segment, we refer to two anti-patterns that we must be aware of and discuss how to overcome those. These anti-patterns are only available on the podcast episode, so make sure you listen through, as they are critical for you to succeed as a facilitator. 

In this segment, we refer to Nonviolent Communication, and an episode we have on the podcast about that topic with Melissa Lang

5 Rules that promote and amplify productive free-flowing conversations in an Agile Retrospective

Free-flowing conversations that lead to insights, and ultimately actions, are the gold nuggets in Agile Retrospectives. For those to happen, and deliver though, we need to be on our best game as facilitators. David shares his 5 rules to promote open and productive conversations in our next Agile Retrospective. You can see the detailed explanation here, and listen in to get the stories behind each of these. The 5 rules are: 

  1. Be comfortable with Silence
  2. Invite, don’t force people to participate
  3. Monitor the energy of the group
  4. Ask open-ended questions (see the list of Powerful Questions)
  5. Remain neutral  

What are your critical questions about Agile Retrospectives? Leave a comment below with your question, and I’ll ask it from David in our next episode!

About David Horowitz

David Horowitz is the CEO of Retrium, a platform for agile retrospectives that has powered over 100,000 retrospectives from thousands of companies across the world.

Prior to co-founding Retrium, David spent a decade at The World Bank as an engineer turned Agile coach.

He has degrees in Computer Science and Economics from The University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Technology Management from The Wharton School of Business.

Learn more about Better Retrospectives with David Horowitz by accessing the FREE Retrospective’s Academy by Retrium:

You can link with David Horowitz on LinkedIn and connect with David Horowitz on Twitter

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