After ten years working on Agile projects, I have discovered that just about everyone has their own spin on how to do it effectively.
Esther Derby and Diana Larsen emphasize frequent retrospectives, which they describe in their appropriately titled book "Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great".
I have been on many projects that waited until they ended before doing any kind of retrospectives - an event often referred to as a "Post-mortem". I have found these to be of little value. We spend a lot of time analyzing what went right and what went wrong, and we document it thoroughly and we file it away where no one reads it.
"Agile Retrospectives" suggests a more agile approach - conducting an analysis periodically throughout the project and using the information gathered to adjust the team's behavior and goals going forward.
Following a brief introduction describing the history and purpose of retrospectives, most of the book is devoted to a set of activities that one can organize and participate in during a retrospective. Each activity is broken down into the following:
- Time Needed
- Materials and Preparation
In addition, the authors sometimes list variations on the steps and description of an activity.
Each chapter reads like a set of recipes and this cookbook format makes it simple to select and follow each "recipe". While this book focuses primarily on retrospectives throughout a project - after each sprint, for example - many of the ideas and activities could also be executed at the end of a project or major deliverable.
One would not and should not attempt to involve their team in every activity described. There simply is not enough time and you will find that some activities are more relevant to your team than others. However, "Agile Retrospectives" contains enough good ideas to help you improve the next iteration by learning from the previous one. Read them all and pick those that will help your team.
I have always viewed Agile methodologies as a way to get and react to feedback as quickly as possible. The activities on this book will help your team do this.