Running Excellent Retrospectives: Talking for Humans

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 11:00 am12:30 pm

Courtney Eckhardt, Heroku, a Salesforce company


How many awful meetings have you been to in your life, where people are talking forever and saying nothing, or where they're saying things that make everyone feel bad? Have you been in retrospectives like that? (Did it make you never want to attend a retrospective again?)

Let's do better! Come learn practical techniques for facilitating pleasant, productive, welcoming meetings. We will talk about the structure of welcoming language and discuss when it's necessary to interrupt someone. We'll examine what it means for language to include blame and how to reframe blaming conversations. We'll practice the mental work of understanding things that seem contrafactual but are actually just confusing. When you leave, you'll be ready to make any meeting or retrospective you're in more comfortable and effective, as a leader or an attendee.

Courtney Eckhardt, Heroku, a Salesforce company

Courtney Eckhardt first got into retrospectives when she signed up for comp.risks as an undergrad (and since then, not as much has changed as we’d like to think). Her perspectives on engineering process improvement are strongly informed by the work of Kathy Sierra and Don Norman (among others).

@conference {221802,
author = {Courtney Eckhardt},
title = {Running Excellent Retrospectives: Talking for Humans},
year = {2018},
address = {Nashville, TN},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = oct
Who should attend: 

Engineers or engineering managers who want to introduce a culture of blameless retrospectives, or who want practice facilitating them, or who want to get better at running effective meetings.

Take back to work: 

Attendees will have the materials and firsthand experience to advocate for (or to begin) an incident retrospective process at their workplace, or to improve a process they might already be using.

Topics include: 
  • Running a pleasant and effective meeting
  • Creating a welcoming atmosphere
  • Blameless retrospectives
  • Facilitating: redirecting blame, reframing, drawing people out

Although this is not targeted at very junior contributors, there are no specific pre-requisites.